Missing Tennessee student found with teacher in California

A teacher from the USA state of Tennessee accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student has been arrested in northern California and the girl was found safe, authorities said yesterday.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is preparing for a news conference this afternoon after reporting that Maury County teacher Tad Cummins, 51, and his 15-year-old student, Elizabeth Thomas had been located in the remote mountains of Northern California.

A nationwide Amber Alert followed and eventually lead Siskiyou County deputies to a remote cabin, where Cummins surrendered and Thomas was found unharmed.

"We're so happy that California police worked quickly and were able to find them and get her safe."

Cummins, the federal complaint says, is charged with taking a minor across states lines to have sex.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, Cummins remained in the custody of the Siskiyou County jail where he's being held without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee.

One of Elizabeth's schoolmates reported seeing her and Cummins kiss in his classroom on January 23, according to a school district investigative report, but both denied the claim.

Cummins' estranged wife, Jill Cummins, was "very emotional" when she learned both were found safe, her attorney, Michael Cox, said. She was seduced and abducted by a 50-year old freak.

On March 13, video surveillance at a Columbia gas station showed Cummins filling up his silver Nissan Rogue.

Tad Cummins' wife of 31 years, with whom he has two children, has filed for divorce.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Public Information Officer Josh DeVine said in an appearance on Today that Elizabeth is "doing well physically". The charge carries a minimum of 10 years.

When day broke, Cummins was spotted and taken into custody without further incident after he walked out of the cabin on Eddy Gulch Road.

Cummins, who is married, and Thomas became the subject of a nationwide search after the teacher apparently lured Thomas into his auto outside of a Shoney's restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, about 45 miles south of Nashville.

"She would come to him about her problems with her past", Jill Cummins said.

Thomas says the family has yet to talk with Elizabeth but plans to do so at some point Friday. Prosecutors will have to determine if Thomas was unlawfully removed from her home or had her freedom restricted in order to prove a kidnapping took place. He said that after seeing a picture online he recognized them instantly.

Investigators found out that Cummins booked rooms - in his own name - at Super 8 motels in Oklahoma City and in Guymon, Oklahoma, in March. Authorities say they were found at a commune in Cecilville, California, on Thursday.

Teacher, Tad Cummins faces federal charges in the Amber Alert case involving his former student.

Giordano said the cabin was located about a 30-minute drive from a commune known as Black Bear Ranch, but there was no indication that the pair spent any time there. Authorities said that a TBI aircraft will bring the teenager home to Tennessee.

"As soon as she's ready for any help we can offer, we'll be there for her", said 22nd District Attorney General Brent Cooper.

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