Investigators put out an urgent call Sunday for help finding Tennessee high school freshman Elizabeth Thomas, who disappeared along with an armed former teacher a week ago, according to authorities who said they were deeply concerned "about his intentions for her".
It has been nearly a week since the Amber Alert was issued for 15-year-old Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins.
Cummins is charged with sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.
Tennessee authorities said they had received 250 tipoffs but said that was a low number, suggesting that the couple may have been sleeping in Cummins' vehicle rather than checking into motels. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings, authorities said. Cummins is a 6ft white male with brown hair and eyes and weighs 200lbs.
Thomas' brother, James, said his family has repeatedly tried reaching out to her via text message, phone, and Facebook.
Her father, Anthony, described his daughter as a boisterous, athletic, and social teenager who loves her family.
In a news release, the TBI said Cummins may be keeping Elizabeth out of sight of authorities, possibly sleeping in his auto or in a rural community.
"And, you know, our Amber Alert is ongoing and it has been several days since anyone has seen Elizabeth Thomas or Tad Cummins". The latter claim stems from an alleged sexual interaction between him and Thomas in January on school property.
At last night's candlelight vigil, family members spoke about how much they missed Thomas and want her home safe.
Cummins was seen March 13 in a surveillance video at a Shell station near Shoney's in Columbia, where Thomas was last seen a short time later.
Clues about the suspected kidnapping were seen on Instagram when both teacher and student posted messages on Instagram that caught the attention of law enforcement; Thomas posted a quote about Beauty and the Beast and Cummins wrote: "Let's do this".
Cummins' wife appeared at a news conference, pleading for her husband to turn himself in and not harm Elizabeth. He is believed to be driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tags. "Please help us bring her home".
"The TBI described Thomas as a 15-year-old white female with hazel eyes who stands 5'5" and weighs 120 pounds.
Anyone with information on Cummins or Thomas should call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.