DA: Teacher With Missing Teen May Be Posing as Missionary

Tad Cummins may have fled to Mexico with girl, district attorney says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2017 3:52 AM CDT
Missing Teen, Teacher Could Now Be in Mexico
This photo released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows Tad Cummins.   (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation via AP)

Tad Cummins, the Tennessee teacher believed to be on the run with 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas, may have fled to Mexico with the girl, investigators say. Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper tells ABC News that the 50-year-old Cummins, who allegedly kidnapped Elizabeth more than two weeks ago, is a "religious man" who might be posing as a missionary. "He planned this in such a way that he had a 24-hour head start, easily enough time for him to make it to Mexico," Cooper says. He urges members of the public to share the Amber Alert with family members in Mexico and Central America. More than 1,100 tips have been received in the US, but none have panned out, investigators say.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said it would be a mistake to describe the relationship between Cummins and Thomas as "romantic," the Tennessean reports. "Let me be clear. She is 15, a child. He is 50, a grown man," Gwyn said. "This is, and was not, a romance. This was manipulation solely to benefit Tad Cummins. This is not a fairy tale. This is a case of kidnapping." Sarah Thomas, Elizabeth's 17-year-old sister, tells People that she knew something was wrong the morning of the disappearance. She says Elizabeth shook her awake and said, "I'm going to be gone," with "a strange edge to her voice." Sarah says her sister told her to call the police if she wasn't home by 6. (Elizabeth's family says she once hid from Cummins.)

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