Elizabeth Thomas, the 15-year-old Tennessee teen allegedly abducted by her adult teacher, is safe and sound and getting back to a normal life.
Friends and family are gently interacting with and approaching her as she copes with the aftermath of her ordeal, her sister told a CNN affiliate.
“It’s a long, long road ahead of us,” Kat Bozeman told WKRN in Tennessee.
“What do you say in these circumstances? You want to ask so many things, but then you know that’s not what she needs. You’re speechless,” Bozeman said. “You don’t know what to say, because she’s been through something very traumatic.”
Ex-teacher in federal custody
Tad Cummins, accused of kidnapping Elizabeth and disappearing with her for five weeks, is in federal custody.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Sacramento, California, on Monday.
Cummins was arrested Thursday and the teen was recovered in Northern California after a nationwide search.
The US Attorney’s Office is requesting that Cummins remain detained pending trial in the Middle District of Tennessee.
The motion, filed with the US District Court Eastern District of California, seeks an order that Cummins cannot overcome the statutory presumption that he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Cummins was charged with one federal count of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse, said Jack Smith, acting US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. The charge carries a minimum of 10 years.
‘Roller coaster’ for family
Bozeman was reunited with her sister on Friday. She said Elizabeth is in a mental health facility where she is being treated. She said she spends a lot of time with a therapist and visitation with family and friends is limited.
The last few days have been emotional, Bozeman said, describing the time as a “roller coaster.” There hasn’t been much discussion about the ordeal itself.
“She told us she didn’t have access to telephone, Internet, any electronic devices. There was not availability to food all the time, is the understanding. Obviously, we are really trying not to press her, because it’s really traumatic for her to remember all of these things,” Bozeman said.
But her sister is “very happy” and pleased to eat food, drink coffee and shower.
“She was abducted and she’s grateful to be home,” she said.
‘I’m glad this is over’
Cummins also faces state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last month.
Under Tennessee law, children 12 and older can choose to leave home unless under “force, threat or fraud.”
When he was captured, Cummins, 50, told deputies, “I’m glad this is over.”
The incident began March 13, when Thomas, went missing in Culleoka, Tennessee. Cummins, too, was gone, after borrowing his wife’s Nissan Rogue and having recently filled prescriptions for erectile disfunction medicine and securing a $4,500 loan.
Surveillance images showed them at a Walmart in Oklahoma City on March 15.
They were found after staying at least a night in a remote cabin 2,500 miles from home near Cecilville, California, near the Oregon border. Cummins reportedly told the tipster who called police that the girl was his 22-year-old wife.