COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – One week after his 15-year-old sister was last seen, Elizabeth Thomas’ brother is urging the public to continuing sharing her photograph in an effort to bring her home.
Thomas, a high school freshman, was reported missing by her family last Monday and an AMBER Alert was issued the next day.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has since said the teen girl was picked up in Columbia by her former high school teacher Tad Cummins.
“I don’t know whether she went willingly or not, but I do believe it was some sort of coercion,” James Thomas said. “I don’t believe it was something a 15-year-old can just say that, ‘Hey, I’m going to be off with a 50-year-old man and it be something that anybody should see as acceptable.”
Authorities told News 2 there is evidence that Cummins had been making plans to “live off the grid.”
He now faces charges for aggravated kidnapping and having sexual contact with Thomas at school.
“I don’t imagine her staying in one place for one long, or at least staying hidden for very long,” Thomas told News 2.
He continued, “She loves interacting with people and loves doing things, so if everybody could keep an eye out and everybody could keep posting and keep communicating and trying to get more people to see her face because she’ll come forward.”
Thomas’ brother added that his younger sister would always tell them when she was hanging out with friends or going somewhere.
“She’d never just jump and run,” he said.
So far, the TBI has received 450 tips from more than 20 states. None of those tips have led to credible sightings of either Thomas or Cummins. The family has also asked the community to wear green ribbons or place green wreaths at their home or business to help keep Thomas’ disappearance in the public eye.
“I’m not asking him to turn himself in. I’m not asking him to do anything more than just put her someplace safe and let somebody know where she is so we can get her back home,” said James Thomas. “I want it to be over with. Every day I’m hoping the next phone call’s the phone call saying she’s back home.”
Anyone who sees the pair is urged to call 911. Cummins’ was last seen driving a 2015 silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate 976ZPT, but law enforcement officials believe they may have abandoned the SUV. Cummins was added to the state’s “Most Wanted” list on Friday.