The sister of Tad Cummins -- the man who was linked to the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl -- has spoken out regarding her brother's motives.
Elizabeth Thomas was reported missing from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13, according to the Independent Journal Review. She had been taken by her former teacher, 50-year-old Cummins. Before the disappearance, Cummins had been fired from his position after the two were reportedly caught kissing.
Following the kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that Cummins "may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom [Elizabeth] ... in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her," according to ABC News.
Cummins and Elizabeth were eventually found in a remote cabin in Northern California, reports Inside Edition. A caretaker for several cabins in the area, Griffin Barry, allowed the two to stay in the cabin on the night of April 19. When he realized who the two were, he alerted police to their presence. Cummins was arrested the next day.
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Barry did not have much interaction with Elizabeth, but said that "she looked depressed." According to the Independent Journal Review, Elizabeth is safe, has since been reunited with her family, and is receiving mental health treatment.
The pair was missing for a total of 39 days and was found over 2,000 miles away from their original location.
An interview with Cummins' sister, Daphne Quinn, was aired on the "Today" show on the morning of April 24. Quinn said that she spoke with her brother three times over the course of the weekend following his arrest.
"He's done this horrible thing that he has to pay for," she said at the beginning of the interview. "But he's still my brother and I love him."
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Quinn also provided some insight into what could have prompted Cummins to run away with Elizabeth.
"I asked him why. Why would he do this? And the answer he gave me is that she wanted to run away and that she wanted to leave and he didn't want her to go alone and so he went with her so that he could know that she was safe."
In addition, Quinn made it clear that while she still does love her brother, she does not support his actions and believes that he must face their consequences.
"He's repentant sounding and I think he would like to get his family back, but I think it just hasn't hit him yet that that's not going to happen. He's just going to have to learn a new normal," Quinn said. "He's got a very long, tedious road ahead of him in a place that he's never been and he's just going to have to deal with it."
Cummins appeared at an arraignment in Sacramento on April 24, reports CNN. Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman approved a request to transfer Cummins back to Tennessee, where he will face federal charges of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse. He faces a prison sentence of 10 years to life and a maximum fine of $50,000.
He will also face state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.