Society

Missing Tennessee Teen May Have Suspected Trouble (Photos)

| by Shani Shahmoon

A horrifying 15 days have passed since a 15-year-old girl from Tennessee went missing -- along with a 50-year-old teacher she was reportedly romantically involved with.

According to the Independent Journal Review, Elizabeth Thomas was dropped off at a local restaurant at 8:00 a.m. and hasn't been seen since. Tad Cummins, Thomas' health teacher, was last seen filling up his tank at a nearby gas station. The two have since been spotted on surveillance footage and by bystanders who took photos and reported them, with over 1,000 tips since the start of the investigation. No officer or detective has managed to catch the pair, despite the efforts of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The Thomas family's attorney has since revealed new information.

A friend of Thomas told the family's attorney that at some point during the two's relationship, Cummins had visited Thomas at work, but she begged her co-worker to tell him she wasn't there and proceeded to hide in the bathroom until Cummins left the establishment.

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Thomas had been homeschooled up until this year when she attended Culleoka High School, where Cummins has worked since 2011.

The two had allegedly been caught kissing by students and later caught by a faculty member, which led to Cummins' suspension. Once the school had learned that the two had gone missing, it issued a public statement firing Cummins for his alleged sexual relationship with the 15-year-old girl.

According to WKRN, Cummins' wife has already pleaded for her husband's return on television. And his neighbors claimed they did not suspect this from him.

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Thomas' Instagram account has also seen some major changes recently -- changes that have stirred up more worry among those looking for the missing teen.

The Independent Journal Review concluded that Elizabeth self-identified as a "wife" in her biography, at the top of her account page.

She has also posted a number of images implying that she was in a relationship.

During a "Today" interview with Ashley Riggins, a longtime friend of Elizabeth's it was learned that Elizabeth had mentioned she was in a secret relationship with an "amazing and perfect" man.

It is now being brought to Ashley's attention that this significant other may have been middle-aged Cummins, a married man.

Ashley also mentioned that Elizabeth had experienced a difficult and unstable upbringing, and would often break down and cry.

Elizabeth's mother, Kimberly Thomas, was arrested in 2016 on child abuse charges. The claim is that she abused the 15-year-old teen as well as three of her sisters.

Elizabeth had openly told police that at some point, her mother had thrown one of her sisters down the basement stairs and then locked her down there.

The mother has gone public in stating she is "not guilty" of these charges.

Kimberly has not yet gone on trial and is not allowed to communicate with her children, but she has spoken to Today in regards to her daughter's alleged abduction.

"I don't believe she feels she's being hurt okay, but she's 15. She doesn't know any better and she is being hurt and damaged," Kimberly said.

According to the Independent Journal Review, Elizabeth was last seen in Decatur, Alabama, on March 20, though it is unknown if Cummins was with her.

Cummins was last seen driving a Silver Nissan Rogue with the Tennessee license plate 976ZPT.

If you have any information regarding Elizabeth or Cummins and their whereabouts, call the Maury County Sheriffs' Office at 931-388-5151 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Sources: Independent Journal Review (2), WKRN (2), Today / Photo credit: Today, Tennessee authorities via KTVQ, TBI via WKRN

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