Authorities search for missing student and teacher

It has been nearly a week since the Amber Alert was issued for 15-year-old Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins. It doesn't have to be me, it can be anyone. "I urge Mr. Cummins to pick up that phone and call someone. and let us know where you are so you can start dealing with the consequences". "Please, please come home".

Thomas, 15, disappeared on Monday, March 13, and she is believed to have been kidnapped by 50-year-old Tad Cummins, a former teacher at her school in Maury County, Tennessee, the TBI said.

According to the school district's documents, Cummins and Elizabeth said they had attended church together with his family.

Cummins was seen driving a Silver Nissan Rogue with a Tennessee license plate 976ZPT, according to the TBI. On the day of her disappearance, Elizabeth was wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings.

School officials said in a statement that the health sciences teacher at Culleoka Unit School was initially suspended and then dismissed as a result of the district investigation.

Agents said Cummins will now face a charge of sexual contact with a minor connected to an alleged sexual interaction between himself and Thomas at the school where he taught and she was a student.

Sheriff Rowland said his department's investigation of the incident is still pending.

But most alarming is what one of Thomas' siblings just revealed to Whatley.

The TBI's investigation thus far has suggested Tad Cummins "may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her", an statewide AMBER alert update from the TBI said.

The student told another schoolmate about what she said she had seen that day.

The report also said "Cummins will be reprimanded in regards to his duty to uphold his professional responsibility and behavior as a teacher".

A subsequent letter from the district to Cummins on February 3 stated that Elizabeth was in the teacher's classroom that day, which the letter said violated a previous order by the district.

Just a few days ago, Cummins' wife, Jill, begged him to do the right thing. That afternoon, investigators say they determined Thomas was 80 miles away, in Decatur, Ala.

Calls and emails to the school district and Marczak were not immediately returned over the weekend.

Elizabeth had a "troubled life", authorities said.

"It was something that surprised me greatly because a lot of my friends went [to that school] and spoke highly of Mr. Cummins", he said.

With tips dwindling, authorities are increasingly anxious about the safety of missing teen Elizabeth Thomas. He describes her as vocal, athletic and social.

Authorities told News 2 there is evidence that Cummins had been making plans to "live off the grid".

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