Officials in Collierville issued a BOLO (Be-On-The-Lookout) for 50-year-old Tad Cummins and missing 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas after reports they were spotted in Shelby County.
However, officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the two people spotted were not Elizabeth and Tad.
— Josh DeVine (@TBIJoshDeVine) March 30, 2017
Shelby County Sheriff's Office received the tip that two people who fit the descriptions of Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas were spotted at Shell Station at 398 New Byhalia Road in Collierville around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
They were seen in a white van, with blue tube and ladder on top with Mississippi temp tags: T0394810. It has been recovered by police. Cummins appeared to have shaved his beard.
The van Tad Cummins was reportedly spotted in has been recovered on Union Avenue at Krystals. pic.twitter.com/F7T9k0jv4W
— WREG News Channel 3 (@3onyourside) March 30, 2017
Authorities responded to the area to look at surveillance video and investigate.
TBI spokesperson Josh DeVine confirmed there were reports of the two individuals at the center of a 2-week long AMBER Alert, but said the reports did not constitute confirmed sightings. Officials said they would not be holding a press conference in response to the sighting, and released the following statement.
"This sighting is much like the other 1200 tips we have followed up on as they have been reported across the country. The TBI is the clearinghouse agency for missing children. We are not confirming this as a substantiated sighting at the stage."
The sighting was confirmed as false around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Elizabeth Thomas was reported missing on March 13 from Columbia, Tennessee. Officials from the TBI said she was "groomed" and kidnapped by her teacher, Cummins.
The Thomas family released the following statement Thursday afternoon.
"In light of this new potential sighting, our family is letting law enforcement do their job in following up on this lead so they can bring Elizabeth home with no interference or complication. There has not been a credible lead to this point, and it has been a long two-and-a-half weeks of waiting and wondering. We desperately pray that this sighting is in fact Elizabeth and that law enforcement can safely remove her from this dangerous situation. Please join us in praying for Elizabeth's safe return. Our family will make a statement when Elizabeth is home with us, but until then, we ask for privacy as we communicate and work with law enforcement. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers."
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