Tad Cummins is now facing a federal sex charge after being arrested early Thursday in California and the 15-year-old girl that he kidnapped was recovered. The remote, mountainous area has limited cellphone service and the terrain is hard to traverse.
Thomas, 15, was reported missing by her parents March 13, last seen by a friend who dropped her off at a Columbia Shoney's.
Cummins was a teacher at the school that Thomas attended, and before the pair disappeared in March, there were reports that they were acting inappropriately.
Investigators believe, though the information is preliminary, that Cummins and Thomas had been living in a cabin in that rural area for about a week and a half when they were found. "Gathering as many details as possible to share", it tweeted. Cummins did all the talking and said they had been at the Black Bear Ranch commune, but left because they didn't like it there, according to Barry.
After the capture, one federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for the goal of having criminal sexual intercourse was filed against Cummins, said Jack Smith, acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
"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.
He also faces charges in California for alleged possession of stolen property and kidnapping, according to ABC News. In her letter, Love said the girl being in his classroom was a violation of the principal's order to him.
The cabin's caretaker alerted law enforcement to their presence and helped them hatch a plan to draw Cummins from the residence unarmed and without Thomas, the cabin's owner told CNN. Aside from being captured on surveillance two days later at an Oklahoma City, Walmart, neither had been seen or heard from since.
Cummins' wife later returned home to discover a note from her husband, in which he said he was heading to Virginia Beach or Washington to "clear his head".
Siskiyou County is one of the most northern counties in the state of California. The images showed Cummins had altered his hair to appear darker and the girl's hair may have changed to red.
But instead of going to the beach, police say he picked up the student in Columbia, Tennessee, in his wife's silver Nissan Rogue on the morning of March 13, triggering a six-week police manhunt. Court records show that Jill Cummins sued her then-missing husband on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct.
"When something like this happens, a community gets together and feels like this is one of our children", Butt said.