The estranged mother of the missing teen at the center of a nationwide search has broken her silence and spoke about the AMBER ALERT for the first time.
Elizabeth Thomas, 15, has been missing for nearly two weeks. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an AMBER ALERT the day after she was seen leaving a Shoney's in Columbia with her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins.
"I can't eat. I can't sleep. I'm scared to death," said her mother, Kimberly Thomas.
Initially, Kimberly didn't know what to do or say. She knew her 15-year-old daughter had disappeared, and she was horribly worried.
She also knew some blamed her for what's happened. But now, with her daughter still missing, she decided to break her silence.
"I don't believe she feels she's being hurt okay, but she's 15. She doesn't know any better and she is being hurt and damaged," said Kimberly.
Thomas has had no contact with her family for more than a year. She was charged with five counts of abuse and neglect.
One of the multiple allegations was that she would bang Elizabeth's head against a washing machine and lock her in the basement.
With her case pending, Thomas would only say, "I'm not guilty of those."
She was ordered to have no contact with any of her ten children, but this past Christmas, while picking up a friend Thomas said she saw her daughter, Elizabeth, and Cummins together.
She wanted to intervene, violating the order, and regrets she did not.
"If I had done something then that would have broke the law. She probably would still be here," she said through tears.
Thomas was prohibited from addressing her daughter directly, but she did have a message for Cummins.
"Please drop her off at a hospital or a fire station...Those are safe havens and they could make sure she got home safe," Kimberly said.
Thomas knows if and when here daughter returns, she won't be able to see her. A judge ordered her to stay away from her family until her abuse and neglect cases were resolved.
She said she is fine with that, and just wants Elizabeth back home safe in Maury County.
The TBI has received more than 600 tips from across the country since the AMBER ALERT was issued. However, none of them have been confirmed sightings.