According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, authorities rescued 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and arrested Tad Cummins after the pair was found at a cabin in the Cecilville, California area Thursday.
A tip led investigators to Cummins’ vehicle that was found 68 miles southwest of Yreka Wednesday night.
Reports to law enforcement indicated a girl was staying in a cabin with a man off Eddy Gulch Road in Cecilville. The man was possibly armed with two firearms, prompting officers to mobilize the Siskisiyou County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team.
Police surrounded the cabin and waited until morning to arrest Cummins when he exited the cabin. SCSO said a citizen who had befriended Cummins assisted police at the scene.
Just after 9:30 Thursday morning, Cummins left the cabin with Elizabeth Thomas. Cummins was taken into custody without incident and Thomas was detained for “her own protection.”
According to an officer, when Cummins was being arrested he said, “I’m glad this is over.”
Deputies said two loaded handguns were found inside the cabin along with various other personal belongings.
According to SCSO, Thomas appears to be in good health.
Cummins is currently in custody in Siskiyou County facing charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping. He is scheduled to be arraigned on April 21 at 10:00 a.m.
Thomas has been transferred to FBI agents in Redding where she will be interviewed.
Authorities are working to reunite Thomas with her family.
The arrest comes weeks after authorities spotted the pair in an Oklahoma City Walmart on March 30.
Prior to the alleged kidnapping, Cummins was suspended from teaching at Culleoka Unit School, where Thomas attended, in February after he was reportedly caught kissing Thomas.
TBI told NBC News Cummins had been seeking information about “teen marriage” weeks before the two went missing.
Thomas’ father said he thought Cummins was grooming children in his class, telling them he had previously worked for the FBI and CIA.
“He had lied to all these kids,” he told NBC News. “I told them it couldn’t possibly be true.”
Cummins’ wife had pleaded for her husband to surrender. “For your sake and for Beth’s sake, please go to the police or please just drop Beth off somewhere safe,” Jill Cummins said.
Jill said she filed for divorce at the end of March.