The father of Elizabeth Thomas, the 15-year-old who was allegedly abducted by her high school teacher in Tennessee, believes his daughter was brainwashed (video below).
Thomas went missing with 50-year-old Tad Cummins, a married father and grandfather, on March 13. More than a month later, she was seen with Cummins in Northern California at a gas station.
Griffin Barry, a caretaker of the property where the gas station is located, told ABC News that Cummins said his name was John and that Thomas was a 24-year-old named Joanna, and that they needed money for gas, food and a place to stay.
Barry paid to fill up their car, gave them $40 in cash, and got them a cabin to stay in Cecilville, near the Oregon border. For two nights, Thomas and Cummins stayed in the cabin, which had no running water or electricity.
"The girl wasn't really looking at me or anything and he was always dominating the conversation. That kind of clues people in," Barry said on "Good Morning America," according to ABC News.
"I had a photo of him that was the Amber Alert and I was like, that’s definitely the guy, and then we saw the car as well and it matched up," he added.
Barry called 911; once authorities confirmed the vehicle identification number of Cummins' Nissan Rogue, surveillance took place for several hours. Thomas and Cummins were eventually approached by authorities from the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department at the cabin, at which point Cummins surrendered to police.
“After we placed them into protective custody, she was laughing, she was crying. She was kind of an emotional roller coaster, as you can imagine,” Lt. Behr Tharsing said of Thomas.
During the investigation into the teen's disappearance, email draft messages were found between Thomas and Cummins that show a romantic relationship existed between them, according to authorities. They also were reportedly seen by a classmate of Thomas' kissing in Cummins' classroom in January, a school district investigative report states. Both denied any inappropriate behavior.
Thomas' father, Anthony Thomas, believes his daughter was manipulated.
"There's a lot of things that still have to be done. She's been with Cummins for a little over a month now. And after that sort of thing, that sort of ordeal she's been through it's going to take some working with her for a while," he said on "Good Morning America."
"Yes," Anthony Thomas said when asked if he thinks his daughter was brainwashed.
Thomas' family plans to get her therapy.
"Because we love her so much we're going to be patient with her and we've got to help her the help she needs," her father said.
Cummins is charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, as well as a federal charge of transporting a minor across state lines with the intent of having criminal sexual intercourse, ABC News reports. He also faces charges in California for kidnapping and possession of stolen property.