The 50-year-old Tennessee teacher accused of abducting his 15-year-old student has been arrested thousands of miles away, with his alleged victim found safe.
Culleoka Unit School’s Tad Cummins is in custody and Elizabeth Thomas had been “safely recovered” in Northern California, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced on Twitter Thursday.
Cummins was arrested near Salmon River, part of a wilderness area near the state’s border with Oregon, after his car was discovered Wednesday night, Siskiyou County jail commander Jeff Huston told the Daily News.
The pair was found at a commune, according to The Tennessean, though TBI would not confirm the exact location of where the arrest was made.
Cummins is expected to be taken to a jail in the small Siskiyou County town of Yreka sometime Thursday afternoon, Huston said.
No information was immediately available about what led to the arrest more than a month after the pair went missing from their homes south of Nashville on March 13.
Cummins was fired from job at a health teacher at the school around the same time, after an investigation that started when he and Elizabeth were seen kissing in January.
He and the teen, who changed her Instagram profile to say “wife” and posted about needing her “beast,” were seen two days after their disappearance at a Walmart in Oklahoma, with no confirmed sightings since.
Investigators say that Cummins had been grooming the teen to sexually exploit her, though Elizabeth was also fearful of the teacher before her alleged abduction.
Her sister said that Elizabeth would hide from the middle-aged man when he showed up unannounced at her work, telling coworkers to tell him that she wasn’t there.
Relatives of the teen have been left with little clue as to where their loved one was, with her father asking a court earlier this month to depose witnesses who he believed were withholding information.
Cummins’s wife Jill Cummins also filed for divorce after 31 years of marriage after the disappearance, saying that her husband is “guilty of inappropriate marital conduct.”
It was not immediately clear what path Cummins and Elizabeth took to get to California.
It is more than 2,400 miles from Culleoka, Tenn., to Salmon River, a drive of around 39 hours going through Oklahoma.