Home / National News / Missing Tennessee teen’s father seeks to depose witnesses in hopes of finding daughter


(COLUMBIA, Tenn.) — The father of a Tennessee teenager who was allegedly kidnapped by her former teacher filed a petition in court Thursday, asking to depose witnesses who may know more about their purported relationship.

Authorities believe 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas may have been abducted by Tad Cummins, 50, who is wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.

The court filing is asking for witnesses who may have any information that could aid authorities in their search for Elizabeth to be deposed.

“The family cannot simply wait for information to trickle in,” Jason Whatley, the attorney representing Anthony Thomas, Elizabeth’s father, told ABC News Thursday. “This petition will hopefully bring a fresh light into the disappearance of Elizabeth.”

The legal move comes more than three weeks after Elizabeth was reported missing on March 13.

The only confirmed sighting of the pair was at a Walmart in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, two days after the pair disappeared. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that Cummins, who was fired one day after the alleged kidnapping, “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the teen] … in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”

One of Elizabeth’s schoolmates reported seeing her and Cummins kiss in his classroom on Jan. 23, according to a school district investigative report, but both denied the claim. A school report from January reads that neither one “admitted to behaving inappropriately towards the other.”

Whatley told ABC News that the family believes there are classmates, friends and teachers who may know more information that could help in the search for Elizabeth, but added that he feels some people may be intimidated or scared to talk to authorities.

Whatley added in a statement that the “process of this investigation has been frustrating” for the Thomas family.

“Perhaps the most concerning element has been the hesitancy of some persons to fully cooperate in sharing information that they know,” Whatley said.

“The purpose of our petition as filed today will hopefully put an end to that hesitancy displayed by some and will help us, as the family, to methodically confirm facts that have been at times unclear,” he continued. “We have brought this petition for no purpose except to provide a vehicle for gathering information.”

Authorities are asking that anyone with information call 1-800-TBI-FIND and that anyone who sees a car with Tennessee license plate number 976-ZPT call 911.

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