The Tennessee teenager who disappeared after she was allegedly abducted by her 50-year-old teacher has broken her silence about the case.
Elizabeth Thomas, 15, went missing on March 13 with her teacher, Tad Cummins, The Daily Herald reported. She was spotted by a reporter at a fast-food restaurant in Columbia, Tennesse,e on Sept. 23.
“I don’t regret it, nor do I say it was the right thing to do,” Elizabeth told the reporter "It was an experience I’ll have to live with the rest of my life. It’s good and bad. It’s there. No matter what we do, we’ll have to deal with it."
Elizabeth's disappearance prompted a massive search, with investigators receiving more than 1,500 tips from people following the case, police said. Cummins was spotted in a remote county in northern California in April, and was arrested on charges of aggravated kidnapping. His trial was delayed until January 2018, the Tennessean reported.
The Daily Herald reporter spotted Elizabeth at the restaurant with two kids she was babysitting.
“Hi, Mary Catherine,” the reporter told Elizabeth. “I’m from the newspaper. I’m glad to see you’re looking well."
“I know you’re in your pajama bottoms now and a T-shirt, but would you mind if I took your picture? No one has seen you in six months," the reporter continued. "They’d be happy to see you smiling, knowing you’re back home.”
“Sure. This is what I wear most of the time, anyway," Elizabeth, who is now 16, said, a grin on her face. "I’ve been thinking about calling you. I have a lot on my mind. There’s been a lot of rumors about me I’d like to clear up.”
Out of respect for her attorney, Elizabeth said she did not want to talk about Cummins' case.
“He’s reminded me about not saying anything about the criminal case to the media,” she said. “But I don’t mind telling you about myself."
"It’s only been recently that I wanted to talk -- to anyone," Elizabeth explained. "There’s been some much speculation about me. 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," she continued. "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 she was in therapy after returning home, but added it was "way too long" and that she "should not have been up there." She said she is happy now living with her brother, who is homeschooling and tutoring her.
"I can’t really complain right now," she said when asked about her daily activities. "I babysit kids, and I work in Columbia. I am studying at home."
Elizabeth said her favorite subjects are economics and science.
"I would like to be a medical examiner," she responded when asked what she wants to be when she grows up. "That is the science part. Economics is just an easy class."