A Tennessee teacher and the teenage former student he was suspected of kidnapping were found in Northern California on Thursday, ending a manhunt that stretched on for more than a month, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced.
Tad Cummins, 50, was arrested and 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas was “safely recovered,” TBI tweeted. Officials planned a news conference scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.
MEDIA: We are planning for an afternoon news conference. Details will be announced as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/Tw7IKNWZ38— TBI (@TBInvestigation) April 20, 2017
"Gathering as many details as possible to share," TBI wrote in a tweet.
Cummins and Thomas disappeared on March 13, sparking a cross-country manhunt made all the more difficult as Cummins apparently changed his appearance and may have switched out the license plate on the vehicle he was driving, according to reports. Court papers filed recently in the girl's disappearance showed she was afraid of the teacher and thought she would face repercussions at school if she resisted him.
Investigators were flooded with thousands of tips from the public as the case gained national attention.
Cummins was fired from his job amid an investigation into alleged inappropriate contact with Thomas.
Cummins and Thomas wrote emails to each other and saved them as drafts in a folder of Cummins’ high school email account, Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper told WAAY earlier this month, indicating the pair had a "romantic" relationship.
“They would write the message and let it save as a draft,” Cooper said. “The other person would log in, read the message and then delete it and then write another message that was saved as a draft.”
He added: “If you read them you would immediately recognize you are reading messages between two people who have a romantic interest in each other.”
One of the email drafts shared with WAAY begins with Cummins telling Thomas that he “saw you standing next to you [sic] backpack this morning.”
“And [Cummins] makes a reference to a body part of hers and how nice that looked,” Maury County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Marcus Alright said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.