AMBER ALERT: Tad Cummins Arrested; Elizabeth Thomas Found Safe

( - The search for a missing Tennessee teen is over. Elizabeth Thomas has been found safe and sound. And the teacher accused of kidnapping the 15-year-old, Tad Cummins, is in custody.

TBI leaders said agents were en route to California Thursday afternoon. We're told she'll be returned to Tennessee on a TBI aircraft as soon as possible.

"It is certainly a good day in the state of Tennessee,” said Josh DeVine with the TBI.

"This afternoon we couldn't be happier to tell you she will soon be on her way back home to Tennessee,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn.

TBI leaders said they got a call to the 1-800-TBI-FIND tipline around 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night from a person who believed they spotted Cummins' Nissan outside a remote cabin in Cecilville, California. Authorities in that area matched the car's VIN and earlier Thursday morning, they went in.

"As daylight broke this morning, they were able to take Tad Cummins into custody and safely recover Elizabeth without incident,” said DeVine.

TBI leaders said received more than 1,500 tips across the country in recent weeks. In the end, one tip ended the weeks-long search.

"We mobilized a nation and when you do that something good is most likely going to happen because you can't hide from that many millions of people looking for you,” said Gwyn.

Authorities said Thomas is healthy and unharmed physically, but said counseling will be available.

"We want to reacquinate her with her family and her friends and lead as normal of a life as possible but as soon as she's ready for any help we can offer, it will be there for her,” said Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper.

Tad Cummins is now being held without bond in California and is awaiting extradition to Tennessee to face charges of sexual contact of a minor and aggravated kidnapping. Cummins will also face a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of having criminal sexual intercourse.




NASHVILLE (FROM THE TBI) – Acting on a tip received by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation late last night, authorities in Siskiyou County, California have rescued Elizabeth Thomas and arrested Tad Cummins, after locating the pair at a rural cabin in Cecilville early this morning.

Thomas, 15, was the subject of a Tennessee AMBER Alert issued on March 14th, after having been kidnapped a day earlier by Tad Cummins, a former teacher at her school in Maury County, Tennessee. On March 17th, the TBI added the 50-year-old to the state’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list.

This morning, authorities from Siskiyou County located the Nissan Rogue in which the pair were traveling and later located the pair. Cummins surrendered without incident. Thomas was subsequently recovered by law enforcement officers. At the time of this release, efforts to reunite her with her family remained ongoing.

“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.”

The TBI has been assisted in this search by a variety of law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Maury County Sheriff’s Department, and the Office of 22nd District Attorney General Brent Cooper.

At the time of this release, Cummins, 50, remained in the custody of the Siskiyou County (CA) Sheriff’s Department without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee to face charges of Sexual Contact with a Minor and Aggravated Kidnapping. A currently booking photograph was not immediately available for release.


On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at about 9:00 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a tip that a vehicle matching the description of Tennessee Kidnap suspect Mr. Tad Cummins, 50, was observed in the Cecilville area of Siskiyou County.

Cecilville is a small rural community located in a mountainous area of the county about 68 miles southwest of the county seat, Yreka. According to reports, a male adult and a young female were staying in a cabin off of Eddy Gulch Road in Cecilville. Deputies responded to the scene and verified that the vehicle, a 2015 Nissan Rogue, silver in color, matched the description broadcast nationwide via an Amber Alert dated March 13, 2017. The original broadcast indicated the kidnap suspect; Mr. Cummins was possibly armed with two firearms, which prompted a tactical response by the Department’s Special Response Team (SRT).

The SCSO SRT responded to the scene, established a perimeter around the cabin believed to be occupied by Mr. Cummins and his juvenile female victim and elected to wait until morning to arrest the suspect when he exited the cabin. A citizen who befriended the suspect and victim assisted SRT members at the scene. On Thursday, April 20, 2017, shortly after 9:30 a.m., Mr. Cummins exited the cabin and was taken into custody by SCSO SRT members without incident. The female victim exited the cabin and was walking behind Cummins. She was detained at the scene for her protection and to facilitate further investigation and victim services. Two loaded handguns were recovered in the cabin along with various personal items belonging to both Mr. Cummins and his female victim.

The victim appeared to be in good health and Mr. Cummins was cooperative with law enforcement authorities at the scene. Mr. Cummins was transported to the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka and booked on a Maury County, TN fugitive arrest warrant for aggravated kidnapping. Contact has been initiated with the Federal Bureau of  Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) investigators.

Memphis FBI and TBI investigators are en route to Siskiyou County to continue their on-going investigation. The kidnapping victim has been transferred to FBI Agents assigned to the Redding, CA office. She will undergo a forensic interview and as a crime victim, receive the care that she needs at this time. Mr. Cummins will be arraigned on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Cummins also faces local charges for kidnapping and possession of stolen property. These and other charges are pending review by Siskiyou County District Attorney, Kirk Andrus.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “I would like to commend the citizens that played a role in bringing Mr. Cummins’ activities to our attention, which led to a response by members of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. I am proud of the men and women of this Department that played a role in this potentially dangerous surveillance and arrest, especially the Special Response Team responsible for the safe and successful resolution of this 6-week ordeal. The SRT worked in freezing weather conditions but resolved this mission without anyone getting hurt, which was a good day for our Department, the female victim, and her family. Like any major crime perpetrated against a young teenager, this case is a difficult one and will plague the victim, her family, friends, and the law enforcement officers and agents involved in the case for years to come. On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the victim, her family, friends, and the all involved law enforcement officers and other members of the justice system as this investigation continues to achieve justice for all concerned.”

Anyone with any information about the activities of Mr. Cummins or his victim is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.




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