It was the riveting and terrifying story that permeated the summer of 2017: the bizarre abduction of the then 15-year-old student, Elizabeth Thomas by a high school teacher, Tad Cummins. After more than 40 days missing, multiple Amber Alerts, and international media coverage, the pair were finally discovered. Now, more than a year later, Elizabeth speaks out about her kidnapping and relationship with her former teacher.
When Tad Cummins kidnapped his student, he was a married man with children of his own. But that didn’t stop him from convincing a young and impressionable 15-year-old girl to come away to California with him. After what is believed to have been a short but very intimate relationship in their town of Columbia, Tennessee, they were off to start their own lives in California.
On March 13th, 2017, the two fled and hid for 38 days. The two quickly realized that they were being hunted so Tad purchased an iPad to be on top of the coverage. By watching the investigators, he was able to keep Elizabeth out of sight for over a month. On April 20th, 2018, they were discovered in a secluded cabin in California.
According to Al.com, an Alabama news source, Tad was charged with transporting a minor with the intent of engaging in sexual activities and destructing, altering or falsifying records in federal investigations. Cummins faces up to life in prison and as much as $500,000 in fines.
Now, more than a year later, Elizabeth is speaking out for the first time. In an exclusive interview with 20/20, Elizabeth shared that she was first approached by her teacher in the middle of the school day during the 4th period.
Elizabeth shared with the interviewer that as sat on her desk, Mr. Cummins sat across from her. During what should have been a casual conversation between a student and her teacher, Mr. Cummins spoke the unthinkable told Elizabeth unnecessary thoughts about what would look like undressed.
Elizabeth revealed that she was scared and embarrassed and didn’t know what to tell people. As a formerly homeschooled child, she was sheltered and felt shame and confusion by an adult and teacher speaking to her so inappropriately. Elizabeth goes on to reveal how their relationship unfolded and what eventually influenced her to flee with her teacher.
Since being discovered, Tad has made a tearful court appearance stating, I cannot be the man I need to be and not tell the truth.' His wife has filed for divorce. Follow her full interview will air on Friday, September 21st, 2018 at 10 pm EST.