As Tad Cummins continues to evade officers, Crime Online continues to dig deeper in the pervy teacher’s past. We’ve learned that his secret romantic email drop with AMBER Alert teen, Elizabeth Thomas, didn’t exactly match well with his claims of being a CIA operative.
Cummins, 50, is the centerpiece of a nationwide manhunt after allegedly abducting 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas from Columbia, Tennessee. In recent weeks, we’ve learned that the pair carried out an seemingly open relationship at Culleoka Unit High School, where he worked as a health sciences teacher. Students reported that the teacher would often give Elizabeth back and shoulder massages in the cafeteria, hold her hands in the hallway, and even let her sleep on a hospital bed in his classroom that was meant to be used solely for educational purposes.
Yet, when it came to communication between each other, the pair tried to keep their alleged romance as quiet as possible. One of the ways Cummins communicated secretly with Elizabeth was by writing an email on a school computer and leaving it in “draft” instead of sending it. When Elizabeth logged into the email account, she read the draft email, erased it, and created a reply that she also left in draft mode. According to Jason Whatley, attorney for the Thomas family, law enforcement officials uncovered the emails, despite Cummins’ clever attempt at avoiding detection.
As we head into the weekend, we continue to follow up on each tip we get, to help find Elizabeth Thomas. #TNAMBERAlert. 1-800-TBI-FIND.
— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 24, 2017
Ironically, Cummins allegedly told many of his impressionable students that he was part of a secret CIA operation and that he had a hideaway home in Honduras. Perhaps he was trying to live out his false claims by concocting the secret email draft plan. He likely thought that drafts couldn’t be recovered, but depending on the email service providers, drafts never completely go away, even if deleted.
According to Whatley, law enforcement officials are likely working with investigators who are experienced in uncovering drafts and other hidden information.
“I know they’re (law enforcement) are properly seeking information from special agents who have experience in electronic evidence or perhaps cyber crime. Of course, I don’t know the specifics of it, but that’s what I think they’re doing, and that’s probably how they were able to find out how Elizabeth and Mr. Cummins were communicating with each other via saved drafts on Mr. Cummins’ school email address.”
Investigative reporter Alan Duke added that although they weren’t sending the emails to an actual email address, they were still inadvertently leaving their notes to each other on the school computer.
“It still sits on the computer. When you type something on a school computer, it still sits there, and as a result, that’s how they found it. So, while it was clever, it was not clever enough to hide the romantic letters.”
As of Tuesday, the pair are still missing. Whatley pointed out that according to family, Elizabeth didn’t take anything from her home that would suggest she planned on running away. While it’s unclear exactly what she had in her bag when she left with Cummins, she didn’t take things from home that would indicate that she was willingly going away for as long as she’s been missing.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of Cummins, and two of Cummins’ former co-workers are offering $5,000 for the safe return of Elizabeth, no questions asked.
Investigators urge the public to not approach Tad Cummins. Instead, contact 911, or the Maury County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office at (931) 375-8654, or TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND. Keep in mind that Elizabeth Thomas could be in extreme danger.
[Feature Photo: TBI]