DA: Elizabeth Thomas may have intentionally left clue before disappearance

COLUMBIA, Tenn. - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it's followed up on 942 tips related to the search for Elizabeth Thomas. Investigators were still pursing 94 of those as of Friday evening.

WHNT spoke with the District Attorney about a clue he wished he knew about when she first disappeared.

Employees at the Shoney's in Columbia said Thomas was waiting with her bags inside the restaurant on March 13. They said when Tad Cummins pulled up, the teen ran outside leaving her back pack behind.

"We believe for one reason or another she left one of these bags behind and it disappeared later that day," said DA Brent Cooper.

Cooper said someone either took the bag or Elizabeth may have come back for it.

He said there aren't new credible clues as to where the two might be, but there are troubling developments.

For instance, Elizabeth's sister said she told her to look for her if she didn't return on Monday night.

That's information Cooper didn't learn for nearly a week.

"If I had known about it from the beginning we would have issued a kidnapping warrant from the start. Because if you make a statement like that that indicates that she expected she'd be back home," said Cooper.

As authorities chase down new leads, Cooper has a message for Mr. Cummins.

"I'm not even saying turn yourself in at this point. Just let her go. Let her leave your presence safely, where she can be found and we will deal with you later," said Cooper.

The DA said he is working to raise the reward for information leading to Cummins' capture.

Right now, it stands at $1,000.

As the city of Columbia is the back drop of the now national story those who live there are trying to push forward. "A lot of people think something like this can't happen in their hometown," said Jayce Pickle.

Green ribbons fly around the town square. Green is the missing teen's favorite color.

"Everywhere you go, everybody is talking about it and upset about it," said lifelong resident Bobbie Lovett.

With so much unknown, one thing is for certain. "I want to see her come and be with her family," said Lovett.