25 April, 2017
In court documents filed Monday, federal prosecutors said Tad Cummins "planned and executed an audacious scheme" to travel through the USA with the 15-year-old girl and ultimately, go to Mexico with the victim.
According to Lauren Horwood, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office, the judge read the charge of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity across state lines, which carries a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison.
She said they haven't discussed much about what happened over the more than a month that Elizabeth was missing with her former teacher, Tad Cummins.
One of Elizabeth's schoolmates reported seeing her and Cummins kiss in his classroom on January 23, according to a school district investigative report, but both denied the claim.
Cummins and the girl had been the subject of a five-week, nationwide search that came to an end Thursday, when they were discovered hiding in a small cabin in Cecilville, a remote, unincorporated mountain community northwest of Redding. Now that she has been reunited with her family, we will no longer identify her in our stories. The 50-year-old Cummins also took off with two handguns, clothes and a $4,500 loan. "One minutes he's happy and the same Mary Catherine that you knew before all this and then she's shaking or curled up in the fetal position crying".
The girl cooperated with authorities, Houtman said, and she flew back to Tennessee with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That charge carries a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, but Cummins could be sentenced to as much as life as prison, according to the US attorney's office.
Galloway said Cummins "surrendered without incident and has been cooperative with investigators".
Men were allegedly looking to buy sex from underage girls
Truong added that the average age of entry into the human trafficking sex trade is about 15 years. This attracted the attention of men of different ages and from all walks of life.
Cummins reportedly "made a number of damaging admissions to law enforcement that provide alarming inside his mentality", the documents states.
Elizabeth and Cummins were both wearing "casual clothing", Lopey says. He faces a state charge of aggravated kidnapping in Tennessee, where he's expected to be returned in the next couple of weeks.
Authorities learned that they had taken motel rooms in Oklahoma City on March 15 and 16 and in Guymon, Oklahoma, on March 16 and 17, according to the affidavit. In her letter, Love said the girl being in his classroom was a violation of the principal's order to him.
Meanwhile, Thomas' family lawyer says the teen was "evaluated and treated" by mental health experts before her return home to Columbia, Tennessee.
The same day his daughter's alleged kidnapper appeared in court for the first time and he also filed for divorce from his wife, Anthony Thomas opened up to News 2 about everything he and his family been through. She said she spends a lot of time with a therapist and visitation with family and friends is limited.
But Cummins' sister, Daphne Quinn, told NBC News on Sunday that she believed her brother had far less nefarious intentions.