Tad Cummins arrested, Elizabeth Thomas found safe in northern California – The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSSearch for Elizabeth Thomas Has Ended | 0:56

The search for a missing 15-year-old Tennessee girl ended Thursday after she was located in northern California, authorities said.
Ayrika Whitney/USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSElizabeth Thomas’ dad: Tad Cummins, turn yourself in | 0:22

Anthony Thomas pleads to Tad Cummins to turn himself in. Cummins is accused of kidnapping his daughter in March.
Natalie Alund / USA Today Network – Tennessee

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSElizabeth Thomas’ dad has a message for his daughter | 0:20

Anthony Thomas pleads to his missing 15-year-old daughter Elizabeth Thomas to come home.

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSElizabeth Thomas, Tad Cummins spotted in Oklahoma Walmart | 0:08

TBI released new footage of the pair in Oklahoma
TBI

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSTennessee’s missing children | 1:40

There are 74 children who have been reported as missing in Tennessee, records show. Of those, 26 are featured on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation website, including some who disappeared nearly four decades ago.
Karen Grigsby / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSMissing teen could be in Mexico, authorities have been notified | 2:14

During a press conference, TBI pleads with viewers to help find 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and stress the severity of the crime.
Elaina Sauber/The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSTBI: This is not a romance, this is a serious crime | 2:21

During a press conference, TBI pleads with viewers to help find 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and stress the severity of the crime.
Elaina Sauber/The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSAuthorities request public’s help in finding missing teen | 0:38

During a press conference, TBI and authorities pleads with viewers to help find 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and stress the severity of the crime.
Elaina Sauber/ The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSTBI gives update on Elizabeth Thomas disappearance | 1:19

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation gives an update on the Amber Alert issued for Columbia teen Elizabeth Thomas.
Elaina Sauber / USA Today Network – Tennessee

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSSearch continues for Elizabeth Thomas | 1:31

Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Monday released new photographs and surveillance videos of the man accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old Columbia, Tenn., girl.
Kyleah Starling/The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSTBI holds news conference on Amber Alert investigation | 11:12

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation held a news conference on Monday, March 20, 2017, to provide the latest updates on the Amber Alert investigation for 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas. Thomas has been missing since March 14.
Ariana Sawyer / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: THE SEARCH FOR ELIZABETH THOMAS AND TAD CUMMINSTBI press conference | 2:35

TBI’s Josh Devine provides update on missing Columbia teen.
Anita Wadhwani, The Tennessean

Former Middle Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins has been arrested in northern California and Elizabeth Thomas, the 15-year-old girl authorities say he kidnapped, is safe, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Just before noon, the TBI tweeted Cummins had been arrested and that more details would come soon. A press release says the pair was found at a commune. A news conference is set for 3 p.m. in Nashville.

The duo has been sought since March, when an Amber Alert was issued. Cummins was Elizabeth’s 50-year-old high-school teacher at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, Tenn.

“Our intelligence analysts and agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said in a statement. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

Cummins is in custody in a California jail without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee to face charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, according to TBI.

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Offices spokeswoman Kelly Giordano said earlier Thursday that Cummins’ vehicle was found in their California jurisdiction Wednesday night. Siskiyou County is a remote area near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, about 120 miles south of the California-Oregon state line.

Giordano would not say specifically where but confirmed her agency was “working an active incident regarding the kidnapping.”

Related:

► Unconfirmed sighting of Elizabeth Thomas at Nashville hotel

Timeline shows troubling events before Elizabeth Thomas’ disappearance

Tad Cummins’ wife files for divorce amidst Elizabeth Thomas Amber Alert

Tennessee community reacts to Cummins’ capture 

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Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Elizabeth of Columbia, Tenn., after her parents reported her missing March 13.

Rep. Sheila Butt, a Republican state lawmaker who represents Columbia, said Thursday was a great day for her community.

“When something like this happens, a community gets together and feels like this is one of our children,” Butt said.

“This just feels like our prayers have been answered, and the lost sheep is home.”

She said she’s proud of her community, and is confident local officials will find a way to learn from this entire ordeal.

“I have known Tad Cummins over the years, and I think I could honestly tell you that I’m not surprised that she’s safe. I will let the courts deal with the ramifications of what happened here,” Butt said.

A suspected kidnapping like this is a rarity in Columbia, said Mayor Dean Dickey.

“The longer it carries on, you seem to expect the worst,” Dickey said. “With the information that I have seen, and that is on Facebook, I’m glad to see that she is unharmed, as far as we know now. What happens to Tad will just have to come later.”

A warrant was issued for Cummins’ arrest after TBI suggested he “may have 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.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

NEWS ALERT: Tad Cummins is under arrest and Elizabeth Thomas has been safely recovered in Northern California. More details soon! pic.twitter.com/QezSERDzHV

— TBI (@TBInvestigation) April 20, 2017

Reach Natalie Neysa Alund at 615-259-8072 and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

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