Police south of US on lookout for missing Tennessee teen
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Authorities asked law enforcement in Mexico and Central America to be on the lookout for a 15-year-old girl who disappeared with her teacher two weeks ago, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Monday.
The agency's request was made as a precaution only, and there have been no sightings south of the U.S. border of either Elizabeth Thomas or her 50-year-old teacher, Tad Cummins. The pair has been romantically linked.
The Tennessee agency got a tip last week that the teacher's car may have been spotted in Corpus Christi, Texas, but police there were not able to confirm it.
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The pair's disappearance came after Cummins was investigated by the school system when another student reported seeing the married teacher kiss the girl at the Culleoka Unit School. Culleoka is a community about 60 miles south of Nashville near the Alabama state line.
Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper tells WAAY-TV that investigators have discovered the pair had a "romantic interest" and believe they communicated in secret by writing draft emails to each other. Cooper said one person would save the email as a draft on Cummins' school account, and the other person would read the message, delete it and write another note as a draft.
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A news station has also posted a video of the teenager in hopes that someone will recognize her voice.
The video posted on Facebook by Wayne County Now shows Elizabeth Thomas teaching her older brother how to sew a Confederate flag.
"Some have characterized this as a romance," said the Director of the TBI, Mark Gwyn. "Let me be very clear: She is 15. A child. He is 50. A grown man. This is and was not a romance. This was manipulation," he said. This is not a fairytale. This is a case of kidnapping and we remain gravely concerned for the well-being of this young girl," said Gwyn.
Anyone who spots the car is being asked to try and safely snap a picture and call 911 immediately. "It only takes one lead," investigators said.