MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. — Authorities continue their search for 15-year-old Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas. Investigators believe she is with 50-year-old Tad Cummins.
Investigators with the TBI say they are trying to understand some of Cummins’ actions in the weeks leading up to the AMBER Alert. They say he secured a title loan for a personal vehicle several day before his disappearance netting $4,500 in cash.
Cummins’ has no criminal history as an adult in Tennessee, law enforcement officials told WHNT News 19.
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) March 15, 2017
On Twitter, he described himself as a Jesus freak, husband, father, and grandfather. He was an active coach for the health sciences club – which trains students to go into the medical field.
He has a martial arts background. His Twitter account is pretty basic, and he doesn’t appear to be on Facebook.
There’s one unusual note.
An Instagram account bearing his name and photo suggests he took a different direction over the past two weeks, but WHNT News 19 hasn’t verified it’s Cummins’ account.
The account shows over the past two weeks scores of love messages about a soul mate, island scenes and more, including the message,
“Good morning all!! This is going to be an amazing day. Let’s do this!”
That was posted Monday, the same day Thomas was last seen.
WHNT News 19 spoke with a neighbor of Cummins for a little more insight into who he is.
Haven Drive in Columbia, Tennessee is a quiet street, and according to those who live nearby, Tad Cummins is a quiet neighbor. Randall Scott said the whole situation doesn’t match up with the man he knows from next door.
“[He’s] very dedicated to his family, appeared to be very respectful, to everyone,” said Scott.
Scott has lived next door to Cummins for a little over a year and said he has never had a negative interaction with him.
“He is a school teacher, he’s very academically gifted, very intelligent guy,” he said.
He said Cummins’ role as a teacher is the very reason this whole thing has come as a shock.
“So it is a huge surprise that he would take any kind situation of this nature to this level,” said Scott.
As a former Columbia police officer Scott is hoping Cummins does the right thing.
“I would ask him to turn himself in, and let the judicial system get in motion and resolve this in a very peaceful manner,” he said.
Another neighbor, Maverick James, has a couple different connections to Cummins but was just as shocked.
“It was a surprise because he’s such an honest man. You know we always thought he was a down to earth guy. He’s always helped my elderly grandparents over here if they needed help,” he explained.
James has a couple of connections to Cummins. For a short time he was also a student at Culleoka Unit School, where Cummins taught. No one saw this coming.
“Everyone loved him. He had a good sense of humor, and you know I’ve never heard one bad thing of him at Culleoka,” he said.
James said he thinks this whole thing falls back on the school system a little bit.
“The school system should’ve called the girl’s parents and took precaution, because you know no one knew of this situation occurring,” he explained.
He said they should’ve contacted the local police department, because that’s what they’re there for.
“So I think something should’ve been taken care of way before it got to this, and blown out to this proportion,” said James.
Authorities are acting now, and hoping it’s not too late. Maury County school leaders confirm Cummins has been fired as a teacher at Culleoka Unit School.
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) March 16, 2017
The TBI has released this surveillance footage that they believe is Tad Cummins filling up his vehicle before leaving with Elizabeth Thomas.