Acting on a tip received by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation late Wednesday 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 Thursday (4/20/2017) 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.
Thursday 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."
According to our CBS network connections, S. Jason Whatley, an attorney for Thomas's family, said the family has not yet spoken to the teen but was expecting a phone call from her "at any moment."
"They're anxious, they're elated, they've got this mixture of feelings," Whatley said. "They're very anxious to speak to her and hear first hand how she's doing - at the same time there's this sense of elation that really can't be described."
Whatley said he was surprised that it was Cummins' car that tipped off law enforcement to their location.
"Many thought the Nissan Rogue was long gone, but there it was," he said.
The teen was expected to be flown back to Tennessee on a TBI aircraft on Friday (4/21/2017), Whatley said. He said the family was thankful to law enforcement and the media.
"Elizabeth would not be coming home now but for the efforts of the Nashville and local media," Whatley said. "A tip was given to the TBI last night because of the media. The family is so grateful beyond words."
He said the family trusts that justice will come for Cummins and want to focus on their daughter.
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.
50-year old Cummins is 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.