The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation believes Tad Cummins "may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her".
Tad Cummins formerly taught at the Culleoka Unit School.
On Feb. 3, Thomas was seen in Cummins' classroom so he was suspended. Authorities have confirmed the former teacher took out several loans totaling approximately $4,500.
The school's website recently listed Cummins as part of the health science faculty at the Culleoka Unit School, the site has been updated and now says "TBD" where Cummins' name used to be. Cummins was not Thomas' teacher, and the history of their relationship is unknown, TBI Private Investigative Officer Josh Devine said.
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Elizabeth is white with hazel eyes, about 5ft 5ins and was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. It warned Sunday that he is believed to be armed with two handguns and should be considered risky.
"Having now been on the run for more than five days, Cummins may have taken her, frankly, anywhere", the TBI said. Cummins, of Columbia, Tennessee, is wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, authorities said. She was last seen at a Columbia, Tenn. restaurant. Cummins is a 6ft white male with brown hair and eyes and weighs 200lbs.
People in Decatur are on high alert after authorities said Thomas' cell phone pinged in the area on Monday, just hours after she disappeared.
The license plate number for Cummins' auto is 976ZPT, but law enforcement officials believe the vehicle may have been abandoned at this point. However, despite receiving hundreds of tips, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not received any credible tips about the teen's whereabouts in almost one week.
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The family of the missing Middle Tennessee teen at the center of a nationwide Amber Alert made a plea for her safe return.
Cummins' wife, Jill Cummins, on Friday asked her husband to turn himself in and bring the teenager home. "Tad, this is not you. We are going to get her back". "We just don't want to go on without you", he said.
According to a letter Whatley sent to Superintendent Chris Marczak on February 6, Anthony Thomas called the school the next day, Feburary 1, and spoke to a woman who expressed regret that he had been "left in the dark", promised to keep him informed of further findings and assured him there would be no more contact between his daughter and Cummins. They are also concerned that he carefully planned the abduction and may intend to harm the teen.
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