Police look for Tennessee teacher, missing teen in Texas

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Police in Corpus Christi, Texas, are looking for a Tennessee school teacher and a student he’s accused of kidnapping.

Senior Officer Travis Pace says authorities in Tennessee shared a tip with the Corpus Christi Police that a vehicle matching the description of teacher Tad Cummins’ car was seen in the city’s North Beach area.

Pace said police have not spotted the 50-year-old health sciences teacher or the missing teen, but officers are reviewing surveillance video from a convenience store.

School records show Cummins taught forensics to 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, who was last seen on March 13.

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A teacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old female student in Tennessee had been investigated by the school system after another student reported seeing him kiss the girl, a lawyer for the missing girl’s family said.

Teacher Tad Cummins, 50,  was allowed to continue working at Tennessee’s Culleoka Unit School for two weeks after the report, according to school records and attorney Jason Whatley.

High school freshman Elizabeth Thomas was last seen March 13 and is believed to be with the  teacher, authorities said.

In late January, another student reported seeing the teacher kissing the girl on the lips.

Despite the report, Cummins was allowed to continue teaching and nobody in the school system bothered notifying the girl’s family about the allegation, Whatley added.

“This is my client’s daughter, and she’s been taken. She’s been abducted, and I can’t figure out for the life of me why no one believed this middle school student,” Whatley said.

He said the girl’s father, Anthony Thomas, learned of the kissing allegation a week after the report was made, when a detective with the Maury County Sheriff’s Department went to the Thomas home to investigate.

The school’s investigative files provided to the father show that both Cummins and the girl denied kissing. The teacher, however, acknowledged that the girl was “a really good friend and she does leave her other classes to come see him when she needs someone to calm her down,” according to a school report dated Jan. 30.

The report said the allegation could not be confirmed but recommended that the girl be taken out of Cummins’ forensics class and that he be reprimanded to uphold his professional responsibility as a teacher. The report also recommended that the administration monitor Cummins’ classroom to make sure students weren’t there when they weren’t supposed to be.

On Feb. 3, Cummins was reprimanded  by school principal Penny Love after the girl was seen in his classroom for about a half an hour that day. In her letter of reprimand, Love said the girl being in his classroom was a violation of the principal’s order to him.

On Feb. 5, the father’s attorney delivered a letter to Maury County school officials demanding that the father be updated on what school officials had learned and that his daughter not have contact with the teacher.

The following day, Feb. 6, the school system suspended Cummins.

On March 14, the day after the girl disappeared, Cummins was fired.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued two nationwide Amber Alerts about the teen. TBI officials said they remain concerned about the girl’s safety because there have been so few sightings reported, spokesman Josh DeVine said.

Elizabeth Thomas is white with blond hair and hazel eyes. She is 5 feet 5 inches and weighs 120 pounds. Cummins is white with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds.

Culleoka is about 60 miles south of Nashville, near the Alabama state line.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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