Teacher who allegedly kidnapped 15-year-old student reportedly ‘glad’ manhunt for him is over

Tad Cummins, 50, a former Tennessee high school teacher accused of abducting a 15-year-old student in March, seen in this booking photo after his arrest by Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department's Special Response Team (SRT) in Cecilville area of Siskiyou County, California, U.S. on April 20, 2017. (Courtesy SCSO/Handout via REUTERS)

A Tennessee teacher who kidnapped his 15-year-old student and escaped across state lines was caught deep in the mountains of northern California on Thursday after more than a month on the run. The pair had disappeared from their small town of Culleoka, Tennessee, on March 13, after Tad Cummins, 50, was spotted by a student kissing his own student, Elizabeth Thomas, in a classroom.

“I’m glad this is over,” said Cummins after his arrest, according to Siskiyou County sheriff Sgt. Mike Gilley.

The trail appeared to have gone cold in the search of Cummins, when the caretaker of a remote cabin in Cecilville called in to report a suspicious older man who had arrived at the cabin with his much younger “wife.” According to the caretaker, Thomas would not speak out loud to him, but rather whisper words into Cummins’ ear for him to repeat back. The caretaker grew concerned when he saw that the couple’s car had no license plates, and that the young “wife” would not leave the vehicle even after Cummins got out.

After consulting with authorities, the caretaker lured Cummins away from Thomas by asking him to come help build a rock wall on the property. Cummins came along willingly, and was detained while exiting the cabin.

Gilley said that Thomas’ condition in the wake of the arrest would shift rapidly between “stoic” and “emotional.”

“It was a very traumatic experience for her. Her mood was very alternating,” he said. “The two obviously have a relationship … her response to us and to law enforcement escalated up and down.”

Cummins’ estranged wife, Jill Cummins, said that she was “very emotional” to hear the news, and that she was “excited that they were found and nobody has hurt.” Jill has filed for divorce, and said she had not spoken to Tad.

After the arrest, Cummins was charged with transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse — if convicted, Cummins would face a minimum sentence of 10 years. Under state law, however, children older than 12 may decide to leave their families so long as their removal isn’t “accomplished by force, threat, or fraud.” Court documents obtained by CNN show investigators discovered evidence that Cummins had plotted for the two to have sexual encounters. But in order to prove kidnapping charges, prosecutors will to have to show that Thomas left with Cummins against her will.

Read the full story at CNN.


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