School documents show relationship between missing teen, teacher

Elizabeth Thomas (source: TBI)

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Documents from the Maury County School Administration’s investigation into the relationship between a missing 15-year-old and a former teacher were released. Click here to read the full report.

Elizabeth Thomas was a student of Tad Cummins at Culleoka Unit School.

According to the school’s investigation, a student claimed she saw the teacher and Thomas kiss on the lips in a classroom on January 23. The student described it as a “peck.”

The following day, the student confronted Cummins, who said he saw Thomas as his “best friend.” The student filed a report with school administration.

Related: Family pleads for safe return of missing teen

Thomas and Cummins were interviewed by school officials. They both denied the incident ever took place but admitted to a friendly relationship.

However, the teen was removed from Cummins’ class and they were told to stay away from each other.

TBI shared this photo of Cummins and Thomas together at school days before the alleged inappropriate contact. (TBI)

On Feb. 3, Thomas was seen in Cummins’ classroom, so he was suspended. But Thomas’ father, Anthony, says he didn’t hear about the incident from the school.

On Jan. 31, he was contacted by a Maury County Sheriff’s detective who was investigating the incident, which had happened a week prior.

The teen’s father hired attorney Jason Whatley, who wrote a letter to the school admonishing them for “brushing” him aside.

In the letter, Whatley says when Mr. Thomas searched Elizabeth’s phone, he found she had been communicating with Cummins. The letter sent Feb. 6 from Whatley to the school also says, “I cannot overemphasize to you the concern we have here.”

Elizabeth Thomas disappeared with the teacher on March 13.

On Sunday night, the Maury County Sheriff told WKRN there’s evidence that Cummins had been making plans to “live off the grid.”

Even more troubling is that neither Thomas nor Cummins have used their debit or credit cards.

Thomas was last seen at the Shoney’s in Columbia when a friend dropped her off. Cummins was spotted next door at a gas station filling up his 2015 silver Nissan Rogue.

A statewide Amber Alert has been issued for Thomas. So far, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has received 250 tips from 24 states.

Anyone who sees the pair is urged to call 911.

The license plate number for Cummins’ car is 976ZPT, but law enforcement officials believe the vehicle may have been abandoned at this point.

WKRN learned that Thomas’ mother, Kimberly Thomas, hasn’t had contact with her five minor children in over a year. There are 10 children in all, but five of the children are adults.

In Jan. 2016, Mrs. Thomas was charged with four counts of child abuse and neglect.

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