A criminal complaint against Tennessee high school teacher Tad Cummins, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, was made public following his apprehension last week in northern California. The federal arrest affidavit, filed by Columbia, Tennessee, police officer Jonathan Hardison, was released in federal court records after Cummins was captured on April 20, 2017.
The timeline of events that led up to the former teacher’s arrest started in January 2017, when a 12-year-old student at Culleoka Unit School in Murray County, Tennessee, told school administration officials that Cummins was having an inappropriate relationship with 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas. It ended in April, when the pair were spotted in Siskiyou County, California, and Cummins was taken into custody.
January 23: A 12-year-old student sees Tad Cummins give Elizabeth Thomas a “romantic peck” on the lips in his classroom at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, Tennessee.
January 30: After the student reported the kissing incident, a school resource officer contacts the Maury County Sheriff’s office to report the inappropriate contact between the teacher and the 15-year-old student.
Detectives interview the witness student at the school, who tells officers that they confronted Tad Cummins with another student before reporting the incident to school officials.
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.
January 31: The detectives have been in contact with Elizabeth Thomas’s father Anthony; together they are able to access messages from Elizabeth’s phone. The records show “brief contact” between the student and the teacher on January 31.
Detectives interview Elizabeth Thomas, who admits that she was in Cummins’s classroom on January 23 but denies a kiss took place.
(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.
February 1: Cummins appears at the Maury County Sheriff’s office for a non-custodial interview. He denies kissing Thomas, and describes their relationship as “father-daughter” in nature.
February 3: Elizabeth Thomas is in Cummins’s classroom for approximately 30 minutes, in violation of an order for Cummins to avoid contact with her.
February 6: Cummins is suspended from the school because of his prohibited contact with Thomas.
On a subsequent and unspecified date, Cummins’s school-issued laptop and his iPad are turned over to detectives. Cummins was reluctant to turn over the iPad.
March 10: Tad Cummins refills a prescription for Cialis, a performance-enhancing drug that treats sexual dysfunction.
March 13: A friend of Thomas’s drops her off at Shoney’s restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, at approximately 8 a.m. The same morning, Cummins tells his wife he needs to borrow her Nissan Rogue for a job interview. Further investigation reveals that no such interview was scheduled.
Tad’s wife Jill Cummins finds a note from her husband on the evening of March 13, claiming that he was going out of town to either Virginia Beach of the Washington, D.C. area to “clear his head.” He promises to return and asks her not to contact police.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Anthony Thomas calls the Maury County Sheriff’s Department to report Elizabeth missing, and says he is concerned she is with Cummins.
March 14: Jill Cummins contacts the Maury County Sheriff’s Office to report that her husband did not come home the night before. She says that he took out a $4,500 loan a week before, and tells police that two guns, toiletries, and clothes are missing from the home, along with the money from the loan.
March 15-16: Cummins and Thomas book a room at a Super 8 Motel in Oklahoma City. A hotel employee does not report this sighting to authorities until March 29. The employee tells police that Cummins asked for directions to a nearby Walmart. A review of surveillance camera footage conducted on March 30 confirms Cummins and Thomas were at the Walmart location on March 15.
March 16-17: An employee at the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts in Guymon, Oklahoma, reported to police on April 1 that Cummins had booked a hotel room there, with only one bed, for the night of March 16.
Follow-up investigation found that Cummins and Thomas had visited a Guymon Walmart location on March 16. They appeared on store surveillance camera footage, and purchased bought women’s razors, cheese cubes, chocolate, and KY jelly with cash.
April 20: Investigators locate Cummins and Elizabeth in Siskiyou County, California, after a caretaker reported on April 19 that they were staying in a remote cabin using fake names. Cummins was arrested without incident and booked into a California jail. Based on previous evidence, investigators believed that he was carrying out a sexual relationship with Elizabeth.
In turn, Cummins was charged with a federal offense of “transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He is awaiting extradition to Tennessee.
April 21: Elizabeth Thomas is reunited with her family.
Read the official documents below: