Tennessee teen gives first interview since being kidnapped by teacher

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation releases new photo of Tad Cummins with Elizabeth Thomas at school in January, days before his alleged inappropriate contact with her.
Credit: TN Bureau of Investigation

COLUMBIA, Tenn. – The teenager who made national headlines earlier this year after she was allegedly kidnapped by her high school teacher has finally given her first interview since returning home.

On March 14, an Amber Alert was issued for 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas after she was believed to be with 50-year-old Tad Cummins, who was Elizabeth’s teacher at her high school.

Cummins was being investigated after he was reportedly spotted kissing Elizabeth in his classroom.

The pair was seen in Oklahoma City just days after the Amber Alert was issued.

Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas were in Oklahoma City on March 15th, PHOTO via TBI

The two were found on April 20 at a remote cabin in Northern California, ending a frenzied search that involved law enforcement agencies across the country.

Cummins now faces one federal count of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse as well as state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.

Tad Cummins mug shot, TBI

Elizabeth, now 16, recently opened up about the ordeal.

“I don’t regret it, nor do I say it was the right thing to do,” Elizabeth, now 16, told the Columbia Daily Herald in an impromptu interview at a fast food restaurant. “It was an experience I’ll have to live with the rest of my life.”

While Elizabeth said she couldn’t talk about Cummins, due to a gag order placed on the case, she was willing to talk about herself.

The teen told the local paper that she returned to Columbia in July after spending 78 days in therapy.

“There’s been so much speculation about me,” she told the paper. “There are people saying, ‘She’s not talking for this reason. She’s not talking for that reason.’ It’s not that. It’s just the publicity is affecting people. Everyone just needs to calm down. I am a human being. I can answer things fairly. But people are asking things that are too personal. People are talking to me like they know me. They didn’t talk to me before. They didn’t try to know me before. They have only liked me since I came back.”

Elizabeth said that she is currently being home-schooled and living with her older brother.

“It’s just safer to be back with my brother instead of in the middle of everything,” Elizabeth said about living with her father.

When she isn’t studying, she is baby sitting, she told the paper.

Elizabeth said that her community has been so accepting and that she is happy to be back.

You can read more on the interview here.


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.