Tennessee Teacher Accused of Kidnapping Arrested in California

(CN) – The Tennessee teacher suspected of kidnapping a 15-year-old student has been arrested in California and the girl was found safe after she was missing for more than a month, police said Thursday.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tweeted Thursday around noon that 50-year-old Tad Cummins was arrested in northern California and 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas has been recovered safely.

Authorities say the pair were found in a cabin near a commune in Cecilville, Calif., early Thursday morning based on a tip the TBI received late Wednesday night.

Cummins surrendered without incident and he reportedly told an arresting officer, “I’m glad this is over.”

Efforts to reunite Thomas with her family were ongoing Thursday afternoon, according to TBI.

Officials in California’s Siskiyou County said earlier Thursday that they had spotted Cummins’ Nissan Rogue, identified by its VIN number.

Thomas disappeared from her home near Columbia, Tenn., on March 13. Cummins was her high school teacher in Maury County. The disappearance came a few weeks after a student reported seeing Thomas and Cummins kissing in school.

An Amber Alert was issued soon after her disappearance. Surveillance video from an Oklahoma City Wal-Mart showed the two together at the store on March 15.

TBI said last month that Cummins faces state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. He also faces one federal count of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse.

“Our intelligence analysts and agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this Amber Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said in a statement. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

Cummins is currently in the custody of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, awaiting extradition to Tennessee.

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