Tad Cummins arrested, Elizabeth Thomas rescued at California commune

Elizabeth Thomas (left), Tad Cummings (right), source: TBI

CECILVILLE, Calif. – The former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student was arrested Thursday at a northern California commune.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Tad Cummins, 50, was taken into custody and Elizabeth Thomas was safely rescued in Cecilville, California. Cecilville is located in Siskiyou County, which borders the state of Oregon.

The TBI says they received a tip late Wednesday night and notified authorities in California, who rescued the teenager early Thursday morning.

The Nissan Rogue the two were travelling in was also located Thursday with the license plate removed. It was verified to belong to Cummins through its VIN number, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

Cummins surrendered without incident, according to the TBI. Thomas was subsequently recovered by officers, and efforts to reunite her with her family are ongoing.

The two vanished from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13. An AMBER Alert was issued across the state of Tennessee the following day, and Cummins was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on March 17.

The former teacher is charged with aggravated kidnapping in the AMBER Alert case and also faces one count of sexual contact with a minor after he allegedly kissed Thomas at school earlier this year in late January.

“Our Intelligence Analysts and Agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “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.”

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, Cummins remained in the custody of the Siskiyou County jail where he’s being held without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee.

A mug shot was not immediately released.

The TBI is holding a news conference at 3 p.m. Thursday. Watch on air and atwkrn.com/liveStay with News 2 and refresh this page for updates.