US teacher accused of kidnapping student arrested
LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — A teacher from the US state of Tennessee accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student has been arrested in northern California and the girl was found safe, authorities said Thursday.
Tad Cummins, 50, had been sought for a month after he went missing with the teen, Elizabeth Thomas.
The pair was found Wednesday night at a cabin in a remote area in Siskiyou County, which borders Oregon, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
Cummins, who faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, went missing with Thomas on March 13, prompting authorities to issue AMBER alerts for the girl in Tennessee and Alabama.
The AMBER Alert Program broadcasts urgent bulletins on child-abduction cases.
Authorities said Cummins's Nissan Rogue sport-utility vehicle was found late Wednesday in California after someone noticed it did not have license plates. The car was identified thanks to the vehicle identification number, local media reported.
"Our intelligence analysts and agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states," TBI director Mark Gwyn said in a statement published by The Tennessean newspaper.
"What happened in California... proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end."
Cummins was a teacher at Thomas's high school in Tennessee and was fired for inappropriate behavior with the freshman student.
Gwyn's office said in a statement last month that a probe had revealed "a troubling pattern of behavior by Tad Cummins, suggesting the 50-year-old may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her."
Authorities said prior to the pair's disappearance, Cummins had done some research online on the topic of teen marriage and had also tried to determine if features on his vehicle could be tracked.