An arrest affidavit for Tad Cummins reveals new details about his weeks on the run with 15-year-old kidnapped student Elizabeth Thomas — and shows that a 12-year-old student was the first to report the teacher’s inappropriate relationship with the teen girl.
According to the affidavit obtained by AL.com, the 12-year-old student at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, Tennessee, allegedly saw Cummins kiss Thomas in his classroom, and confronted the teacher with another student before reporting the incident to school authorities.
“The student related that Cummins rambled on and on about how much he loved his wife but indicated that [Thomas] sometimes went to church with him and his wife and that [Thomas] had a troubled past,” the court records state.
After school officials shared the report with Thomas’s father Anthony, detectives searched Elizabeth’s cell phone and found correspondence with Cummins. When questioned by detectives, the girl reportedly denied the kiss took place, but admitted that she visited Cummins after an unrelated argument with another teacher.
(Thomas) indicated Cummins may have been consoling her when the student walked in. (Thomas) advised that Cummins possibly held both of her hands around the wrist area and may have been close to her face at the time, telling her she needed to calm down.
Cummins was ordered not to have any contact with Thomas, and was suspended from the school on February 3 when Thomas was seen in his classroom in violation of the order.
The affidavit also details communication between Cummins and his wife, Jill. Cummins reportedly left her a note on March 13, the day he disappeared with Thomas, claiming that he was going out of town to “clear his head.” He promised to return and asked her not to contact police, a request she initially honored.
But after Anthony Thomas reported his daughter missing on March 14, Jill Cummins reportedly told police her husband had not come home the night before. She told them that two weapons and clothes were missing from the home, along with money from a $4,500 dollar loan her husband had taken out the week before.
The affidavit further explains the circumstances surrounding a sighting of Cummins and Thomas in an Oklahoma City Walmart on March 15, which was not reported until two weeks later. According to the records, a Super 8 motel employee called the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on March 29 to report that Cummins had stayed there on March 15-16. The employee told police that Cummins had asked for directions to a nearby Walmart, which led authorities to search surveillance cameras there, confirming the fugitive and the kidnapping victim were in the store.
A second call from an employee at a Wyndham Hotels and Resorts in Guymon, Oklahoma, reported that Cummins had booked a hotel room there, with only one bed, for the night of March 16. Further investigation found that Cummins and Thomas had visited another Walmart location while in Guymon. There, they reportedly bought women’s razors, cheese cubes, chocolate, and KY jelly.
There were no confirmed sightings of Cummins or Thomas until earlier this week, when the fugitive and his student rented a cabin in a remote area in Northern California, near the Oregon border. A neighbor there told the cabin property owner that he thought Cummins was acting strangely, and suspected he may be the teacher the FBI had been searching for. The cabin caretaker notified the property owner, and they subsequently came up with a plan to keep Cummins there long enough for authorities to catch up to him, by offering him a job doing rock lifting work.
By Thursday, authorities had reached the remote cabin and arrested Cummins. He is currently in custody facing multiple charges, and awaiting extradition. Thomas was found unharmed and has been reunited with her family. Her lawyer told Crime Online she is being treated by a mental health professional to help her recover from the ordeal.