Police: Hunt Continues for Armed Teacher Who Kidnapped Student

3/20/2017, 8:50 a.m.
Six days without a credible tip -- that's how long authorities have been digging for answers in the alleged abduction ...
Tennessee Bureau of Investigations has added 50-year-old Tad Cummins to the Tennessee's Top 10 most wanted list. TBI has released more pictures of Cummins and his car in hopes someone recognizes him. Cummins and the victim 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas have not been seen since Monday.

Teacher fired last week

Maury County Public Schools officials have been quiet about the incident. There doesn't appear to be any word about the missing student on the school's website or Facebook account.

The school's website recently listed Cummins as part of the health science faculty at the Culleoka Unit School, the site has been updated and now says "TBD" where Cummins' name used to be.

Calls and emails to the school district and Marczak were not immediately returned over the weekend. Marczak did not immediately respond to a direct message sent via Twitter.

The Daily Herald in Columbia reported that school spokeswoman Kim Doddridge provided a timeline of the school's handling of the incident. The day after a student reported seeing Elizabeth and Cummins kissing, the Culleoka Unit School contacted the central office, she told the newspaper.

The district kicked off an investigation that ran from January 25 to January 31, after which the results were given to Cummins, she said, according to the paper.

"During the investigation, both the teacher and the student were instructed to have no contact. The student was transferred out of Cummins' class. At that time, there were no findings to substantiate suspension of the teacher. The suspension on February 6 was precipitated by insubordination by Mr. Cummins. There was a continuing investigation by the Maury County Sheriff's Office. Cummins' dismissal on March 14 was a result of the TBI's issuance of the alert," the paper quoted Doddridge as saying.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed to CNN that Cummins was fired last week.

Dad 'not doing well'

Whatley said that despite his Feburary 6 letter to Marczak, school officials did not do enough to keep Cummins away from Elizabeth and, at one point, placed Elizabeth in in-school suspension when they learned the two remained in contact.

Anthony Thomas was upset to learn Cummins was not only still pursuing a relationship with his daughter, but also still teaching, the attorney said.

Whatley described Anthony Thomas, a single father of 10, as a blue-collar guy. Elizabeth's mother does not live with the family, Whatley said.

Asked how Anthony Thomas is holding up, the lawyer said he's sad, anxious and suffering from high blood pressure.

"He's not doing well at all," Whatley said

Did teacher plan abduction?

On Friday, Cummins' wife made a tearful plea for her husband to bring Elizabeth home and turn himself in.

"Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are," Jill Cummins said during a news conference. "We can help you get through this. No matter how far you've gone or what is happening right now, God's grace is sufficient for you and he wants you to come home."

TBI Private Investigative Officer Josh Devine said last week the history of Cummins' and Elizabeth's relationship was unknown.

Saturday's Amber Alert update said the investigation has indicated a "troubling pattern of behavior" by Cummins, who possibly planned Monday's abduction.

"Nothing investigators have learned about Cummins or his intentions for the young girl since issuing the AMBER Alert calms the imminent concern for Elizabeth's well-being. In fact, it only heightens it," the Amber Alert update says.

District Attorney Brent Cooper, who has jurisdiction in this case, weighed in last week to explain what made Elizabeth's alleged kidnapping aggravated.

"This is a 15-year-old child that has led a difficult life, basically going against a 50-year-old man. I believe it's clear at this point that her removal by him is unlawful. And what makes it aggravated is that he was in possession of firearms," he said.

Cooper did not elaborate on what made Elizabeth's life difficult.

CNN's Jamiel Lynch and Alice Kantor contributed to this report.