Tennessee educator and 15-year-old kidnap victim located

The 50-year-old Tennessee man accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old former student was arrested in Northern California - and the teenage girl was recovered safely after she was missing for more than a month, authorities said Thursday.

"He said she was 24, he said he was 38 or something like that", Barry said. He said he would be back and urged his wife not to call the police. If convicted on that federal charge, Cummins faces at least 10 years in prison.

Law enforcement in secluded Siskiyou County, near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest three hours northwest of Redding, Calif. near the OR border, confirmed to multiple outlets that Cummins' Nissan Rogue was discovered there late Wednesday night without a license plate.

According to WKRN-TV, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office confirmed the Nissan Rogue used by Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas was found in the county.

Cummins was cooperative with law enforcement, Siskiyou Sheriff Jon E. Lopey told the Associated Press.

The student who was allegedly kidnapped by her teacher in Tennessee has been found safe. Thomas was right behind him and she detained for her protection. "I didn't observe any emotional distress", he said.

"This is not somewhere they had frequently visited", Cox said. "I believe the Federal Bureau of Investigation are going to make sure she's healthy before she comes home", she said.

"When my neighbor called and told me, I thought 'Oh my God, no, we are way too far from (Tennessee),' " O'Hare said.

O'Hare was not on the property but the cabin's caretaker spoke to the couple, he said. Cummins did all the talking and said they had been at the Black Bear Ranch commune, but left because they didn't like it there, according to Barry.

The girl has returned to Tennessee. The girl is expected to be returned to relatives in Tennessee Friday, her family says.

The Maury County Public Schools released a statement, obtained by PEOPLE, reading, "The news of Elizabeth Thomas' safe return is wonderful news for our community, and now, we can begin healing as a community, school district and as families touched by the AMBER Alert".

After taking out a loan for $4,500, the records say, the teacher took the money and two handguns and wrote a note to his wife saying he needed to go to Virginia Beach or the D.C. area to clear his head.

Giordano would not confirm whether Cummins and missing Elizabeth Thomas were found but said deputies are working an active incident and "Any other details are being withheld for officer safety".

They were spotted in Oklahoma city after the disappearance, where surveillance footage showed them purchasing food items in the store with cash.

How they got to Cecilville, California, and why they went there remains a mystery to investigators.

The girl's father has told news media he believes his daughter was brainwashed.

  • Archie Newman