Tad Cummins is the Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old former student, Elizabeth Thomas. Now, authorities say he was caught kissing the teen in his classroom before they both disappeared.
Officials also say Cummins had planned to abduct Thomas. The 50-year-old teacher lured the Culleoka Unit School freshman into his classroom on January 23. That’s where he was caught kissing her by another student, who told Thomas’ family later, according to Daily Herald.
A family member of the missing teen says the witness was so shocked, all she could do was walk out of the classroom. It was completely unexpected, and she was confused about the situation. She’s always believed Cummins was a good teacher who cared for his students. The teen had a really hard time dealing with what she’d seen.
Despite the fact that she looked up to the teacher as a mentor, the witness went into the school the next morning and reported the inappropriate kiss. She also told the family of Elizabeth Thomas that she would see the teacher and the teen together often, reports Columbia Daily Herald.
Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland said the student’s story was “very credible.”
The school fired Cummins on March 14 – the same day authorities issued an Amber Alert for Thomas, after he allegedly kidnapped her, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
She was last seen at a Shoney’s restaurant in Columbia, Tenn., around 8 a.m. on March 13, officials said.
Surveillance video released last week showed Cummins filling up his Nissan Rouge at a gas station before picking up Thomas at the restaurant.
He was added to the TBI’s most wanted list on Friday. Cummins is wanted on charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the TBI said.
“What scares us about Mr. Cummins is he’s sort given up his life at this point,” Rowland told ABC News. “The girl is just 15.”
Cummins remains on the run and is considered to be armed with two handguns, authorities said.
The TBI has received about 250 tips from 24 states, none of which have led to Thomas’ whereabouts. Authorities have put out a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.
Thomas’ disappearance has left her family distraught.
“You just hope that you’re going to find her alive,” Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Thomas, said a press conference Saturday. “We all love you very much and we miss you,” as he urged the teen to come home.