Tennessee teacher found in Siskiyou Co. now in federal custody

Yreka, Calif. — The case of a Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student is now in the hands of the federal government. After more than 5 weeks on the run, Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas were found Thursday in Siskiyou County, nearly 2,500 miles from where they vanished last month. Now Cummins is in federal custody, and Thomas is home.

“He will not be arraigned this morning,” Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus told reporters Friday.

Less than 24 hours after Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas were located, federal authorities have taken over the case.

“The local court process here is over,” Andrus says, “it also means that it looks like at least for now, the federal crime is going first.”

The federal warrant accuses Cummins of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He’s also facing charges of sexual contact with a minor, and aggravated kidnapping in Tennessee.

The investigation began in a town outside Nashville, when Cummins and Thomas disappeared March 13th. Despite reported sightings throughout the U.S. it was a tip in Siskiyou County, that ultimately led authorities to remote cabins in Cecilville, California, 38 days later.

“A disadvantage of being in a place like Cecilville, is the people that live there, know everybody,” Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey says, “and in this case people were a little suspicious you know a 50 year old guy with a 15 year old girl.”

Now in federal custody, Cummins is being taken to Sacramento where he is set to be arraigned on federal charges as police here, continue to compile evidence collected from the scene. Meanwhile, Thomas is now free and reunited with her family, but just beginning on a long road to recovery.

“She has to go back home and face the reality of school, family, friends,” Sheriff Lopey says, “I think it’s gonna be very difficult for her in the next few weeks and months.”

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