(CULLEOKA, Tenn.) — Tennessee authorities are asking for the public’s help in their hunt for a former teacher who allegedly kidnapped a 15-year-old student, state officials said.
Tad Cummins, 50, is accused of kidnapping teenager Elizabeth Thomas on Monday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a press release. Cummins was a teacher at Elizabeth’s school in Culleoka, Tennessee, until he was fired Tuesday, authorities said.
Cummins is believed to have two handguns, and Elizabeth is considered to be “in imminent danger,” the state investigative bureau said.
An Amber Alert has been issued for Elizabeth, and Cummins has been added to the state’s “Top 10 Most Wanted” list, authorities said.
The state Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that Cummins “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom” the teen for some time, “in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”
Cummins’ wife, Jill Cummins, made an emotional plea to her husband at a news conference Friday, urging him to turn himself in.
“I had no idea my husband was involved with anything that has led to all this. My heart breaks for the family of Beth Thomas,” Jill Cummins said. “Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are. We can help you get through this … Your family wants their poppy back. Please do the right thing and turn yourself into the police and bring Beth home.”
Tad Cummins, of Columbia, Tennessee, is wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, authorities said.
As of Friday, Tennessee authorities said they had received 175 tips but none had produced a credible sighting of Tad Cummins and his alleged victim.
Cummins is described as a white man with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He may be driving a 2015 silver Nissan Rogue with a Tennessee license plate number 976-ZPT.
Elizabeth is described as a white girl with blonde hair, hazel eyes. She is 5-feet, 5-inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing leggings and a flannel shirt.
Authorities are asking that anyone with information call 1-800-TBI-FIND and that anyone who sees a car with Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT call 911. A $1,000 reward is available for information leading to Tad Cummins’ arrest.
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