(WSVN) - An Amber Alert in Tennessee has been extended nationwide in the search for a 15-year-old girl who disappeared with her 50-year-old teacher.
Elizabeth Thomas has been missing for nine days. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued a second Amber Alert for the girl, saying they believe her health teacher, Tad Cummins, may have abducted her to “potentially sexually exploit her.”
According to the TBI, Tad Cummins searched the web for “teen marriage” on March 5, just over a week before he and the teen disappeared. Five days later, investigators said he researched what features of his vehicle, a Nissan Rogue, might help law enforcement to track him.
“It’s absolutely important that everyone in this nation know about these individuals because frankly, they could be anywhere right now,” TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said Thursday, according to Fox 17. “We’ve amped up our language because we really need the public to know that this young girl is in danger.”
Investigators said they believe Thomas was in Decatur, Alabama at some point after she went missing. But DeVine has said the case has gone “fairly cold.”
The FBI has now joined the investigation.
Police said Thomas has blonde hair and hazel eyes. She is 5’5″ tall, and weighs 120 pounds.
Cummins has brown hair and brown eyes. He is 6′ tall, and weighs 200 pounds. He is believed to be driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976ZPT. Investigators said they believe he is armed with two handguns.
Cummins is already facing charges of sexual interaction with Thomas, and was suspended when allegations surfaced. The school district terminated his employment Tuesday.
“Though the TBI cannot discuss specifics at this time, investigative efforts have revealed a troubling pattern of behavior by Tad Cummins, suggesting the 50-year-old 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,” investigators said.
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