A 50-year-old Tennessee man, who authorities said kidnapped a 15-year-old girl this month, was spotted shopping at an Oklahoma City Wal-Mart on March 15.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed on Friday the sighting of Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas. The bureau said it obtained surveillance video from the Wal-Mart at 100 E Interstate 240 Service Road after receiving a tip.
Investigators said the video shows Cummins and Thomas shopping in the store on March 15. Cummins used cash to buy food, and he had altered his appearance by darkening his hair, according to a news release.
Investigators said they were working to determine the vehicle the man and teen were traveling in.
Officer Travis Vernier said the TBI has not asked for Oklahoma City police assistance.
“They’re really conducting the investigation,” Vernier said, adding authorities don’t know if Cummins and Thomas were just passing through Oklahoma City.
Thomas was last seen on March 13, the day authorities said Cummins kidnapped her. Cummins is a former teacher at the school she attended in Culleoka, Tenn., which is about 60 miles south of Nashville
He was suspended from the school after an investigation was launched into allegations he had inappropriate contact with Thomas. A Feb. 8 memo from Maury County Public Schools states that a student at the Culleoka Unit School reported seeing Cummins and Thomas kiss on Jan. 23.
“Neither Mr. Cummins nor Beth Thomas confessed to the incident. Neither party admitted to behaving inappropriately towards the other. The allegation of teacher Tad Cummins kissing student Beth Thomas could not be confirmed from the evidence presented,” school district officials reported in the memo.
Thomas had been a student in Cummins’ forensics class, officials said. The teacher was suspended without pay from the school district on Feb. 6 and fired the day after Thomas went missing.
Cummins is described as about 6 feet tall, weighing about 200 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He is thought to be armed with two handguns and driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT.
Thomas is described as about 5 feet tall, weighing about 120 pounds, and was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings.
A warrant has been issued for Cummins on complaints of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. He was added to the TBI’s most wanted list on Friday and a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest is offered.
Also on Friday, the teacher’s wife of 31 years filed for divorce. Court records show that Jill Cummins sued her missing husband on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct. The wife, who works for the Maury County school system, says she has not seen her husband since March 13. The couple have two children together.
Jill Cummins has previously publicly pleaded with her husband to turn himself in and bring the girl home safely.
Anyone with information should call 911 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Contributing: Associated Press
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