Inside cabin where Tad Cummins, missing student were found
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 24, 2017,
Apr 24, 2017, 7:01
"She's a young girl that's with a grown man", Gwyn said.
Cummins and Thomas were found in a cabin in northern California, close to the OR state line, Thursday after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received a tip late Wednesday night.
The Maury County Public Schools released a statement, obtained by PEOPLE, reading, "The news of Elizabeth Thomas' safe return is wonderful news for our community, and now, we can begin healing as a community, school district and as families touched by the AMBER Alert".
Police say teacher Tad Cummins kidnapped the girl from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13.
He phoned police, who surrounded the cabin and busted Cummins and rescued the teenage student Thursday morning. There is no doubt that she has suffered severe emotional trauma and that her process of recovery is just beginning.
The family is extremely grateful for the thoughts and prayers of the nation and asks sincerely for those continued prayers as Elizabeth becomes able to process the last 39 days.
Barry said he realized who Thomas and Cummins were when someone showed him a picture of the AMBER Alert subject and her suspected kidnapper.
Before leaving with the girl, Cummins had been suspended from teaching and police were zeroing in on him, questioning his relationship with Thomas.
March 13 - Cummins leaves a note to his wife that he is travelling to Virginia Beach, Va. or the Washington, D.C. area to clear his head.
Cummins spent the night in jail before FBI agents whisked him away to Sacramento, where he faces federal charges of crossing state lines with intent to have sexual relations with a minor.
The Associated Press is not naming the girl or her family members because she is an alleged victim of a sex crime. "He lost everything, they were married", said Barry.
Surveillance footage captured the pair at a Walmart in Oklahoma.
The cabin's caretaker, Griffin Barry, told Inside Edition that Cummins and Thomas called themselves John and Joanna. Cummins was arrested Thursday after a tip led police to the cabin in Cecilville, California.
Whatley also touched on Elizabeth's emotional and mental health.
"The family is absolutely elated beyond words that this part of the ordeal is coming to an end", Jason Whatley, an attorney for the girl's family said Thursday evening. "Everybody was hoping for the best, and the best is what we got". He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.
March 15 - Investigators believe Cummins and Elizabeth stayed at an Oklahoma City hotel. Culleoka is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Nashville near the Alabama state line. He said Thomas did not exhibit any anger toward her former teacher and showed no sign of elation that authorities found them. 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 January 30.