Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins, who is accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student, was arrested in northern California Thursday after more than a month on the run, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The student, Elizabeth Thomas, has been rescued, officials said, describing her as “healthy” and “unharmed.”
Around 11 p.m. Wednesday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received a call to its tip line about a possible sighting of the duo, according to TBI public information officer Josh Devine. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department in California had received a similar tip, he said.
Siskiyou County is in the northernmost part of California and located near the Oregon border.
Once investigators located a Nissan Rogue, they were able to confirm through its VIN number that it belonged to Cummins. The car was then kept under surveillance for several hours.
Authorities from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department found the pair at a cabin in a rural area in Cecilville early Thursday morning. Deputies set up a perimeter around the cabin and elected to wait until the morning to arrest Cummins as he exited the residence, the sheriff’s department said in a press release.
As daylight broke, Cummins surrendered without incident and Elizabeth was safely recovered by law enforcement officers, according to the TBI. Two loaded handguns were found in the cabin, according to the sheriff’s department.
According to ABC affiliate KDRV, the man letting them stay there said he wasn’t aware for the past 36 hours that the two were sought after by authorities.
Cummins, 50, is charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, according to Lawrence County Attorney General Brent Cooper.
The U.S. State Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee has also filed a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with intent of having criminal sexual intercourse against Cummins, said U.S. attorney Jack Smith. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Cummins also faces charges in California’s Siskiyou County for kidnapping and possession of stolen property, according to the sheriff’s department. The charges are pending review by Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus.
It could take several weeks for Cummins to be extradited to Tennessee, Smith said.
Efforts to reunite Elizabeth with her family remain ongoing. A TBI aircraft is on its way to California and will bring Elizabeth, who is currently in FBI custody in Redding, California, home to Tennessee, authorities said.
Elizabeth is expected to board a TBI private jet bound for Tennessee Friday morning, said the attorney representing the Thomas family, Jason Whatley. Her family is “anxiously” waiting to speak with her for the first time since she went missing, Whatley said.
SOURCE: ALEX STONE, MORGAN WINSOR, EVA PILGRIM and JULIA JACOBO
ABC / Yahoo