The community of Columbia has not lost hope of 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas' return home after being missing for more than three weeks.
In a downtown Columbia Coffee shop Austin Jones prepared a fresh brew for a customer Tuesday. Recently coffee shop talk has focused around one dark issue and one name in particular.
"I mean we've heard her name it seems non-stop. People have been talking about it on the square," Jones said.
Elizabeth Thomas, the young girl who vanished with her former teacher has now been missing for more than three weeks.
"That definitely takes an effect and you see it on the faces of everybody who walks in to the café," said Jones.
However, this community will not lose hope.
"Do you believe at some point she will be brought back home," NewsChannel5 asked the Thomas family attorney, Jason Whatley. "Absolutely, there is no doubt in my mind. We believe she will be brought back home and Tad Cummins will be brought to justice," he replied.
Whatley speaks daily with Thomas' father, Anthony daily. "Frankly I think the family has been overwhelmed with the amount of support they have been receiving," Whatley said.
After more than three week, only one credible sighting of Tad Cummins and Thomas was confirmed in Oklahoma City, but that was two days after they disappeared.
"It was obviously a cold trail, begs the question where would they be now? How far could they have gotten," asked Whatley.
Whatley said his office is working with law enforcement while also conducting its own investigation. He believed they're still somewhere in the U.S.
For now, however, all this community can do is wait. "Any news like this, even in the smallest scale affects the entire community," Jones said.
Whatley hopes once this case is solved it will be used to help change the federal Amber Alert system. Although an Amber Alert was issued in two states, Tennessee and Alabama, it was not initially reported in Oklahoma, where the two were seen two days after they disappeared.
“It’s limited, part of a concern I would have is it gives a sense of hope when in essence you’ve got an alert going out in two states. We need it to go further than that, in these situations where it’s clear the person is on the run, at least there’s credible evidence of that or was and certainly is now so what do you do? Do you show it in all 50 states? I don’t know the answer to that but I know there’s got to be a better system than the current system we have now,” Whatley said.