MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. - An Amber Alert for a 15-year-old girl continued Thursday in both Alabama and Tennessee. Investigators believe she is with her former teacher who is wanted for Sexual Contact with a Minor and may be armed with two handguns. The pair was last seen in north Alabama on Monday.
Elizabeth Thomas, of Columbia, Tennessee, was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. She is described as having blonde hair and hazel eyes. She weighs 120 pounds and is 5'5" tall. Agents believe she is with Tad Cummins, who is described as standing 6 feet tall and weighing about 200 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. The two could be traveling in a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee plate 976-ZPT.
Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said they are continuing to uncover what investigators are calling a “troubling pattern of behavior” by 50-year-old Cummins, a former teacher who agents believe had “been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”
The TBI said state prosecutors took out a warrant for Sexual Contact with a Minor on Tuesday afternoon, which prompted the Amber Alert. Agents said the charge is connected to alleged sexual interactions between Cummins and Thomas. Investigators said the alleged encounters started at the school where Cummins taught and where Thomas was a student. Cummins was fired shortly after the allegations surfaced.
Thursday, the TBI released an updated timeline of events. Investigators said Thomas’ friend dropped her off a Shoney’s in Columbia, Tennessee a little after 7:30 a.m. Monday. About an hour later, Cummins was spotted on surveillance camera at a nearby Shell station fueling his Nissan Rogue. Information given to investigators put Thomas in the area of Decatur, Alabama, which is located about 70 miles north of Birmingham and 20 miles southwest of Huntsville, around 3 p.m. later that day.
Investigators said they are trying to piece together the events leading up to the Amber Alert. TBI agents said Cummins secured a title loan of about $4,500 in cash. TBI agents are asking anyone who may have had contact with Cumming over the past few weeks to contact them.
Investigators said they have only received 120 tips; none have produced any credible sightings. TBI agents called this a shockingly low number of tips for this type of case.
Anyone who believes they have spotted the vehicle, Thomas or Cummins is asked to call 911 immediately. Other tips can be given to the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.morning, but none have produced any credible sightings.