Two weeks ago, 15-year-old Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas was reported missing by her family. Her alleged kidnapper? Fifty-year-old Tad Cummins, her former health sciences teacher.
Cummins is currently thought to be “armed and dangerous,” and a warrant for his arrest has been issued due to aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. The second charge came after the allegation that the former teacher kissed Thomas on Jan. 23 while on school property. They were also accused of sending each other romantic emails through his school account.
NEW PICTURE: Here's Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas at school in January, days before his alleged inappropriate contact with her. pic.twitter.com/U0Uv4eRpkp
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) March 21, 2017
Thomas’s family worried that Cummins might have been “grooming” her, a fear that doesn’t seem completely unfound. Before she went missing, Thomas shook her sister awake and warned her that something was wrong, though she didn’t specify what.
“She said, ‘I’m going to be gone,’” Thomas’s sister told People. “She had a strange edge to her voice. She said, ‘I’m going to get back at 6 tonight. If I’m not back by 6, call the police and come find me.’”
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) March 15, 2017
According to Thomas’s sister, the teen definitely showed some warning signs: she said she had to break up with her boyfriend, claiming she wasn’t allowed to be with him anymore, and said she couldn’t go to a certain party if it were after Monday.
According to family, Thomas had been dropped off at a restaurant on March 13 by a friend. Not much later, Cummins was caught on camera at a gas station across the street. It’s believed that he picked Thomas up after getting gas, and the two haven’t been seen since.
However, though Cummins has been accused of kidnapping, one Tennessee law might save him from conviction. According to Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper, if Thomas went willingly with Cummins and is adamant that it was her own doing, the courts might let him off the hook with a misdemeanor. And if the two are romantically involved like some believe, it’s a likely scenario.
As of now, it’s unclear what exactly happened between Thomas and Cummins. Let’s just hope that Thomas is safe and finds her way home soon.