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What Happened To Elizabeth Thomas? New Details About Tennessee Girl Who Disappeared With Her Married Teacher

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Where is Elizabeth Thomas Now? New Details Tennessee Teen Kidnapped By Teacher 20 20 Interview

On Friday, Sept.21, ABC’s 20/20 featured an interview with Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas (more commonly known as Elizabeth Thomas), her family and the family of the married teacher who abducted her in March 2017.

When Thomas was only 15 years old, she was attending high school in Culleoka, Tennessee. Her health sciences teacher was 50-year-old Tad Cummins.

Cummins married his wife, Jill, in 1985. According to ABC News, the two have adult children and are grandparents.

Because of his seemingly fulfilling life, it seemed ludicrous that he would become the target of a nationwide manhunt in March and April 2017, even after a suspicious encounter between Cummins and Thomas that was witnessed and reported by another student.

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In January of 2017, another student was walking into the classroom when she allegedly saw Cummins and Thomas share a light yet highly inappropriate kiss. When she confronted Cummins about the encounter, he maintained that he was simply a protective father figure to Thomas and “saw her as a close and best friend.”

Nevertheless, the witness reported the incident to the school. According to Elizabeth’s father, the school did not inform him of the incident; he found out when the police questioned him.

The district suspended Cummins three weeks after the kiss pending a thorough investigation of the relationship between Cummins and Thomas.

On March 13, 2017, Tad Cummins abducted Elizabeth Thomas. Her sister, Sarah Thomas, who was 17 at the time, says that Elizabeth woke her up that morning and told her to call the police if she was not home by 6 p.m. Cummins was officially fired by the school district the next day, and an Amber Alert was issued for Thomas on March 15.

Over the course of the next month, the couple remained elusive. Thomas changed her Instagram bio to “wife.” The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a photo of the two at the school (which was taken days before a student witnessed their kiss), prompting hundreds of calls about sightings of the two.

One of the only confirmed sightings of the two, as they trekked across the country to the commune in California where they were eventually found, was in an Oklahoma Walmart. According to People, the two were captured on a surveillance video from the entrance of a Walmart store in Oklahoma City.

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Both appeared to have had altered their appearances with hair dye.

Finally, on April 20, 2017, Cummins and Thomas were found living in a remote cabin near Cecilville, California, which is located near the Oregon border. A resident of the tiny, modest “town” called 911 after noticing Cummins’ strange, over-protective behavior toward Thomas and realizing who they were.

By then, the case was nationally-broadcast as the search intensified across the country.

Even after the capture and Cummins’ subsequent arrest, many questions surround the case regarding the true nature of their relationship and whether or not Elizabeth Thomas was a willing participant in her kidnapping.

According to Fox17 Nashville, Cummins has pled guilty to transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual intercourse and the falsifications of records in a federal investigation. His sentencing has been delayed until Dec. 5, 2018.

Elizabeth, however, seems to be recovering well. In addition to this week’s highly-anticipated interview with 20/20, she casually interviewed with a reporter from The Daily Herald in September of 2017 at a fast food restaurant after spending 78 days in therapy.

“I don’t regret it, nor do I say it was the right thing to do. It was an experience I’ll have to live with the rest of my life. It’s good and bad,” she told The Daily Herald.

Not much of her 20/20 interview has been released prior to its airing on Friday, but the promotional clips of her statements are harrowing. Thomas describes the first time that her teacher kissed her and the feeling of wrongdoing that came with it.

Before any sexual contact, Cummins allegedly told her that she would look good naked.

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“He grabbed my face” she details. “When that happened, it was kind of like, ‘wow.’”

Prior to her short time at the Culleoka public school, she had been homeschooled and therefore sheltered from even the most innocent of romantic advances from boys her own age. Since her mother was accused of abuse, she and her siblings were forced to enroll in public school.

Some have speculated that the alleged abuse left her vulnerable to the advances and grooming from Tad Cummins at her new school.

In both interviews, Thomas notes that she feels the need to set the record straight as public scrutiny continues toward her, her family and the school where she first met her abductor.

With the airing of the 20/20 interview on Friday, the public may finally learn the true details of Elizabeth Thomas’ terrifying grooming and kidnapping. Candid interviews with her family members as well as Cummins’ ex-wife may finally reveal the complex dynamics of the relationship between the young student and her predatory teacher and the kidnapping case that captured media attention across the country.

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