Tad Cummins, 50, and Elizabeth Thomas, 15, in undated photos released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. TBI photo
TENNESSEE (WRCB) -
More than two weeks after a student and her former teacher disappeared from Maury County, Tennessee, investigators say they still don’t know where they are today.
Tuesday morning, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation updated the public on the AMBER Alert and search for Elizabeth Thomas,15, and Tad Cummins, 50. The TBI has received more than 1,100 tips and is continuing to look into 167 of them but so far there have been no confirmed sightings of Thomas and Cummins.
Investigators are urging the public to stay alert. If someone thinks they see the missing teen and former teacher, the TBI is asking people to safely take a picture and call 911 immediately.
“It takes one tip, it takes one person seeing them or seeing the vehicle and knowing what to do to turn this thing around,” said TBI Public Information Officer Josh DeVine.
The TBI has shared information with authorities in Mexico and Central America. The AMBER alert hasn’t officially been extended to those areas but investigators say it’s possible the teen and her former teacher could be there.
Before their disappearance, investigators said Thomas and Cummins exchanged troubling messages through his work email account. They wouldn’t elaborate on the conversations but said the teenage girl was being “groomed.”
During Tuesday’s news conference, authorities warned the public against victim blaming.
“This was not a romance. This was manipulation solely to benefit Tad Cummins.
This is not a fairytale, this is a case of kidnapping,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn.
Investigators urged Cummins to turn himself in to police and bring Thomas home.
“To Tad, let me say this. It's still not too late to do the right thing,” said Gwyn.
He also had a message for Thomas.
“We will not stop until we find you and bring you home,” he continued.
Investigators said they remain optimistic, despite the fact that so much time has passed.
They stressed that they need the public’s help to bring Thomas home.