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Tad Cummins

AMBER Alert: New photos, videos surface of teacher accused of grooming and abducting Tennessee teen

by Leigh Egan

Nancy Grace and investigative reporter Alan Duke take a look at the investigation of this case on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace. Listen to the podcast here!

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) released new photos and videos on Monday of suspected child abductor, Tad Cummins, who’s accused of fleeing the state with his former student, Elizabeth Thomas.

Cummins, 51, a former teacher at a Columbia, Tennessee, high school, is accused of “grooming” 15-year-old Elizabeth before abducting her. He is still on the run and authorities are asking the public to share the photos and videos and be on the lookout for the pair.

So far, there has only been around 450 tips and leads coming in on the case, and according to the TBI, those numbers are considered low for an AMBER Alert. Cummins is likely hiding from the public, possibly in rural areas. They both may have altered their appearance and Cummins, who left in a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate number, 976-ZPT, may have ditched his car for a different one.

The ex-teacher, fired this week from his teaching position, is now on Tennessee’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, and there is a $1,000 reward for information that leads to his captured. Authorities warned that this is an urgent situation and that Elizabeth is in extreme danger.

“We want people to remember she’s a high school freshman. He was a teacher at her school. This is a very serious situation,” said TBI spokesperson, Josh DeVine.

Apparently, Elizabeth comes from a troubled background, where she is one of ten children, five of which are now adults. Her mother, Kimberly Thomas, has had no contact with the five minor children, including Elizabeth, in over a year. Authorities believe that Cummins used the teen’s troubled home life to his advantage, and began grooming her while she was in one of his classes. The school caught on to the inappropriate relationship, even demanding that the pair not have any contact with each other.

Anyone who sees Cummins or Elizabeth is urged to call 911 immediately. Do not approach Cummins. He may have at least two weapons with him.

[Feature Photo: TBI]

Leigh Egan is a crime-fighting journalist and editor who specializes in breaking news and investigative true crime coverage. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Leigh’s work can be found in a number of high-profile national publications. For Leigh, learning didn’t stop after college. She considers herself a lifelong learner who frequently takes media and journalism courses to keep abreast of the latest happenings and innovations in her field.