COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – WBTW’s sister station WKRN spoke with the attorney for the family of Elizabeth Thomas, who said he was hired before she went missing.
Jason Whatley says the 15-year-old’s father hired him to help keep Tad Cummins away from his daughter amid allegations he had sexual contact with her.
The father reportedly didn’t have knowledge of inappropriate contact between the two until Jan. 31. The family attorney says the school district learned of an alleged incident on Jan. 23.
But most alarming is what one of Thomas’ siblings just revealed to Whatley.
“An issue that has arisen as of late is a statement made by Mary Catherine to a sibling the day she disappeared,” the lawyer said.
“The statement, as we understand, is that if she was not back by 6 p.m. that evening that law enforcement should be called,” Whatley continued.
WKRN also learned Cummins and Thomas had been communicating through public posts on Instagram, and investigators believe there was more meaning behind them.
On March 11, Thomas posted a quote to her account that says, “One day someone will look at you like you are the most perfect thing they have ever seen. One day you will find someone who can’t imagine living their life without you.” It was posted with the hashtag #igotanidea.
On March 12, Cummins posted to his own page an image of a man playing a guitar to woman with the words, “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” He used the hashtags #strong, #unbreakable, and #love.
They were just two of several social media posts investigators believe the two may have been using to communicate with each other.
“We have a suspicion that there was communication going on through social media, but through posts that were public, that were intended for the child,” said Whatley.
“There are lots of different ways that Tad Cummins had contact with Elizabeth before her disappearance. There are several ways he was doing that; we think he was using social media as well,” the attorney continued.
There have been over 450 tips on their whereabouts so far, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says efforts to locate them remain unsuccessful as they could be anywhere.
Thomas is a 15-year-old white female, with hazel eyes, stands 5 feet tall and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings.
Cummins is a 6-foot-tall white man who weighs around 200 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes, and he’s believed to be armed with two handguns.
It’s believed he is driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976-ZPT.
Cummins is currently on the state’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
The TBI is encouraging property owners, especially in rural areas, to search their grounds for them, their vehicle, or any sign of suspicious activity and call 1-800-TBI-FIND to report any information.