Elizabeth Thomas-Tad Cummins Abduction Update: What Experts Are Saying Over Law That Might Favor Former Teacher
The whereabouts of a teacher and his former student remained unknown and experts expressed the possibility that the kidnapping law would work in favor of the suspected abductor. Authorities alerted police in Mexico as they believed Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins went to the country.
Thomas, the 15-year-old teen believed to have a romantic relationship with her former teacher, 50-year-old Cummins, might not be covered by the kidnapping law. The kidnapping law stated children older than 12 could decide whether to leave their home unless they are removed from their families through force, fraudor threat. District Attorney Brent Cooper of the 22nd Judicial Circuit said because of this wording, they want to change it in order to hold Cummins responsible.
Cooper pointed out they have to prove the kidnapping of a victim older than 12 as unlawful regarding the removal from the home or if the suspect restricted the victim's freedom. They also have to demonstrate that Cummins used force, coercion or fraud to further prove the abduction was unlawful.
Cooper reiterated many claimed Thomas left her home of her own free will. The DA added, "Under current law, it's really going to depend what the testimony of Ms. Thomas is."
Cummins taught Thomas at his forensics class in the past at Culleoka Unit School. Weeks before they disappeared, someone caught Cummins kissing Thomas. An investigation took place and it resulted to the teacher's suspension.
They charged Cummins with sexual contact with a minor by an authority figure, which is a misdemeanor. Another problem about Cummins and Elizabeth possibly apprehended by authorities outside the country could not lead to their detention because of the charge being a misdemeanor only, CNN said.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn also slammed people who blamed Thomas and concluded the teacher and student had a mutual romance. Gwyn said the teen is a child and Cummins is a grown man so there is no romance but only manipulation.
Authorities believed Cummins and Thomas are now in Mexico but police in the area did not confirm yet how reliable the tips are. Law enforcement agencies announced Amber Alert for the teen and the teacher, AL.com reported.
Details on what led police to think the two are in Mexico remained unclear. Cooper, however, said there is no evidence or information linked to the two missing persons reaching Mexico but it is possible they made it that far. They also think Cummins played the role of a missionary in Mexico because of his knowledge of the Bible.