Former Tennessee teacher in kidnapping case captured, girl safe

A former Tennessee high school teacher accused of abducting a 15-year-old student in March has been arrested and could face life in prison.

Tad Cummins, 50, who disappeared in mid-March with Elizabeth Thomas, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping and having sexual contact with a minor.

Police found Cummins with the teenager in northern California on Thursday.

Cummins, who is married, and Thomas became the subject of a nationwide search after the teacher apparently lured Thomas into his car outside of a Shoney's restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, about 72km south of Nashville.

The case sparked a nationwide search. Source: Fox 46

The former teacher was subsequently placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's top 10 "most wanted" list.

But police managed to track Cummins to a small rural area south outside of Cevilville.

Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Giordano told Reuters officers earlier believed Cummins was armed with two handguns but managed to arrest him without incident.

Source: Fox 46

Giordano praised the efforts of residents who tipped off police.

“They’re a very tight-knit community," Giordano said.

"The vehicle and Tad stood out, because they were not local.”

Acting on the tip, Siskiyou County authorities located Cummins' vehicle early on Thursday morning and dispatched a special response team that found the pair several hours later.

Cummins is being held without bond at the Siskiyou County Jail, Giordano said. He will be arraigned at Siskiyou County Superior Court, likely on Friday, before being extradited to Tennessee, she said.

The 50-year-old could also face life in prison with federal charges.

US attorney Jack Smith said the charges would include transportation of a minor across state lines with the purpose of having criminal sexual intercourse.

Officials said Thomas would be flown home soon, but gave no indication of when.

Brent Cooper, district attorney for Maury County, where the kidnapping occurred, said it would likely take several weeks to arrange Cummins' extradition.