MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it has determined the reported sighting of Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas on Thursday afternoon was not, in fact, them.
Elizabeth Thomas' father, Anthony said that the tip gave them hope, only to be let down. "We were very very just, our emotions were very high when we first heard about the sighting. We were just so hopeful, so hopeful that it was going to almost be over and we could have had her home this evening. They've been caught in Memphis. But now after this, its just a huge let down."
Earlier Thursday the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received a report the two had been spotted at a gas station at 398 New Byhalia Road, in the Collierville area east of Memphis. This was around 12:45 p.m. according to our Tribune affiliate WREG.
The man who spotted them said he saw Cummins, took a picture then immediately called police. Shortly after that, the Collierville police issued a "Be On The Lookout," or a BOLO, for the two.
The man told WREG if it was Cummins, he shaved his beard.
Cummins and Thomas were reportedly in a white van with Mississippi tags. WREG has learned the van was purchased from Tri-State Motors in Hernando around March 22. Sources said the tag would have been issued by the dealership when the van was purchased.
That van was later discovered abandoned at the Krystal’s on Union Avenue.
Collierville Police released this statement:
"The Collierville Police Department responded to a possible sighting of Tad Cummings and Elizabeth Thomas at the Shell gas station located at 398 New Byhalia Road in Collierville. The sighting was around 12:30 this afternoon, and the two were said to be traveling in a white Chevrolet panel van with a ladder rack and possibly a blue or aqua colored tube on top. The Collierville Police Department is coordinating with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at this time regarding this sighting."
Earlier in the day, the TBI said it was aware of the report, but didn't confirm it as substantiated:
Elizabeth Thomas was reported missing March 13 from Maury County. She was allegedly taken by Cummins, a teacher.