Fugitive ex-teacher accused of kidnapping teen reportedly seen in Texas: police

Posted at 7:44 PM, Mar 23, 2017

COLUMBIA, Tenn. -- After a reported sighting in Texas, authorities are once again expanding the search for a 50-year-old former teacher and the 15-year-old girl he's accused of abducting.

It's been 10 days since Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins disappeared from Maury County, Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation remains hopeful the two will be found and says more than 650 leads have come in so far. The TBI urges the public to remain vigilant for any signs of the two.

Thursday afternoon, a report arose of a possible sighting in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Corpus Christi police said Thursday that the Texas Bureau of Investigation contacted them with a possible tip. A caller reported seeing the same type of vehicle Cummins is believed to be driving, with Tennessee tags. Police said part of the license plate may have matched.

Investigators from the Corpus Christi Police Department are now checking all hotels, cameras and other possible leads in the area where the tip originated. So far, the tip hasn't been substantiated.

Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins

The Thomas family released another statement on Thursday, through their attorney S. Jason Whatley in Columbia, TN:

"The last ten days have been the most difficult in the life of the Thomas family. We want to sincerely thank those of you throughout the country who are praying for Elizabeth's safe and speedy return. The family has been overwhelmed with the kindness shown to us by the Maury County community and beyond. We humbly ask that you continue to pray as we do our best to cope with the emotional weight of Elizabeth's abduction.

We also thank the press, both local and national, for its continuous coverage of Elizabeth's abduction. It is critical to finding Elizabeth that we broadcast to the widest possible audience so as to keep Elizabeth's story in front of as many people as possible. Hopefully this awareness will assist law enforcement with tips that will lead to Elizabeth.

The family certainly expresses as well its sincere thanks and praise for law enforcement. The Maury County Sheriff's Department, the District Attorney General's Office for the 22nd Judicial District, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies have worked tirelessly to find Elizabeth. We ask that the public stay vigilant and provide law enforcement with any information, no matter how insignificant you might perceive it, that could relate to Elizabeth's whereabouts. Law enforcement needs tips.

Finally, we want to also address the Maury County Schools, as the teachers and administration are the core of our community. The Thomas family has the utmost respect and admiration for our teachers. They are the backbone of Maury County. We love Maury County Schools, especially Culleoka. It is important to the Thomas family to emphasize that none of the reports about possible mistakes made regarding Tad Cummins prior to Elizabeth's disappearance are relevant to what we are doing now. Our focus should be on finding Elizabeth. Period. To do that, we need as much information as possible, including from the school system. We know that each teacher and administrator at Maury County Schools mourns as we do over this tragedy and wishes daily for Elizabeth's safe return. Despite some of the stories that have been broadcast, the Thomas family wishes to express that the family and the schools are unified in this singular desire. Whatever questions about how issues were handled when Elizabeth was in school are distant and secondary and, in many ways, distracting to the core issue of finding her. We thank the Maury County School System for its continued help in finding Elizabeth.

We are desperate for any information that might lead to our daughter. The information that we need is not only what people have seen and heard after Elizabeth's disappearance, but also from before. Facts about prior events, especially interaction between Elizabeth and Tad Cummins and statements made by both to third parties, may very well contain clues to lead to Elizabeth's return. The Thomas family asks that the community in particular re-visit events leading to Elizabeth's disappearance and come forward with any information that you believe might give insight into the mind of either Elizabeth or Mr. Cummins. Elizabeth must be found. Time is of the essence.

Thank you, and may God be with Elizabeth.

Please call 1-800-TBI-FIND with any tips.