FBI assisting in AMBER Alert of Elizabeth Thomas, nationwide BOLO issued

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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released new photos and information in the multi-state AMBER Alert of Elizabeth Thomas.

Thomas, 15, is believed to be traveling with her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins. Cummins is believed to be armed with two handguns and driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT.

TBI said the investigation has revealed a "troubling" pattern of behavior by Cummins. Agents said may have been abusing his role as a teacher to "groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her."

The FBI has also joined in to help and a second nationwide BOLO has been issued.

A warrant has been issued for Cummins' arrest for Sexual Contact with a Minor for an alleged interaction between Cummins and Thomas at the school where he taught and where she was a student. The school district suspended Cummins when the allegations surfaced and terminated his employment Tuesday. However, a family friend and the Thomas family attorney is questioning the school's reaction time in the case.

The last known location of Thomas and Cummins was Decatur, Alabama at 3:06 p.m. Monday. So far, TBI has received 120 leads, but no credible sightings.

"Because of the shockingly low number of tips, the TBI has concluded the individuals are likely out of the view of the general public or outside the original net cast across the southeast to notify the public about their disappearance. Having last been seen on Monday morning, the individuals could, frankly, be anywhere." - TBI

TBI agents have developed a timeline of some events leading up to the issue of the AMBER Alert on Tuesday evening.

  • About 7:30-7:45 AM CST: A friend of Elizabeth Thomas dropped Thomas off at the Shoney’s in Columbia, Tennessee.
  • 8:32 AM CST: Surveillance video appears to show Tad Cummins at the nearby Shell station, fueling his Nissan Rogue.
  • 12:41 PM CST: The Maury County Sheriff’s Department entered the child as ‘missing’ in NCIC, the nation’s law enforcement internal communications database.
  • 3:06 PM CST: Information places Thomas in the area of Decatur, Alabama.

TBI said Cummins secured a title loan for a personal vehicle and other personal effects several days before his disappearance, netting $4,500 in cash.

Thomas is described as a 15 year old white female with blonde hair and hazel eyes. Thomas stands about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing black leggings and a flannel shirt.

The TBI is asking the public to remain vigilant and report any information to 1-800-TBI-FIND. If anyone sees the vehicle with license plate number TN 976-ZPT, call 911.

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