Court documents: AMBER Alert subject Elizabeth Thomas felt threatened by Tad Cummins
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WZTV) —
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Papers filed by the family of Tennessee AMBER Alert subject Elizabeth Thomas say the teen expressed to siblings and friends she was "in over her head," and that teacher Tad Cummins allegedly threatened the teen.
Police are expected to provide an update at 4 p.m. ET.
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The papers filed in a Maury County court state the family has learned much of what is stated through various sources since Thomas' disappearance on March 13th. The family says Cummins had picked Thomas up from her father's home on "more than one occasion," threatening that if she did not go with him, "she would face repercussions at school."
On the morning of her disappearance, Thomas told the friend who dropped her off at Shoney's restaurant she wanted to be taken back home and she was "having second thoughts about spending the day with him." At the time, Thomas told the friend the person she was meeting a teenager named "Thomas," who is now believed to really be Cummins.
In the months prior to Thomas' disappearance, the family says Cummins was often alone with Thomas at the school. A fellow student allegedly found Thomas one morning before class sleeping on a hospital bed in Cummins' classroom, alone. Other students allegedly saw physical contact between Cummins and Thomas, including Thomas rubbing her back and shoulders while at school.
Thomas had a "special seat" next to Cummins and the family says he would give her gifts and money, the documents said. Following an alleged kissing incident between Cummins and Thomas at the school, Cummins allegedly told Thomas her college and work career was ruined, "causing her to believe that her best option was to leave with him."
There were other statements made towards Thomas by Cummins which the family says were threats, "coercion, intimidation, and fraud exacted upon the child." Following Cummins' suspension from school, the family says he frequented the place of Thomas' work where she would sometimes serve him. At times, Thomas would hide from Cummins and ask employees to lie about her presence at work in an attempt of avoiding him. The family says in short, "Cummins was stalking the child." After the kissing incident, Cummins allegedly stated other falsehoods both to Thomas and others, claiming he was a millionaire and former special forces soldier.
The family says they believe Thomas was "groomed" by a "masterfully manipulating predator." Cummins allegedly used the fact Thomas' mother lost custody of Elizabeth due to allegations of abuse, calling himself a "father figure" to Thomas and telling people Thomas came from an "abusive home." Thomas' father says despite the relationship with Elizabeth's mother, he and Elizabeth have always had a loving relationship and he has never abused any of his children.
The family says they filed the deposition due to the fact "with each passing week that Cummins and the child are gone, the memories of these witnesses potentially become less clear and more subject to ultimate scrutiny when the above causes of action are heard at trial."
Read the full petition for testimony below. Or on mobile here.