National BOLO Issued For Teen In AMBER ALERT

FBI Called In To Assist With Case
Posted at 12:53 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 21:35:23-04

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a national BOLO alert, or "Be On the Lookout" alert, for 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas after she apparently left willingly with 50-year-old teacher, Tad Cummins. 

TBI spokesperson Josh DeVine made the announcement during a press conference Thursday afternoon. The BOLO was issued after DeVine said investigators received a low amount of leads after a local AMBER ALERT was issued. 

"At this point, we have received only approximately 125 leads," said DeVine. "There have been no credible sightings of these individuals since we issued the AMBER ALERT on Monday."

DeVine said the low number of leads led investigators to believe that the Thomas and Cummins were no longer in the area. 

"This leads us to one of two conclusions at this point. Either Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins are out of the view of the general public right now, or they are outside of the original net that we cast across the Southeast," he said.  

Officials have said they were  “extremely concerned” for the well-being of the Maury County teen.  

More: Video Released Of Teacher At Center Of Amber Alert

In an update Thursday afternoon, TBI officials said the investigation has revealed a troubling pattern of behavior by Cummins and suggests he may have been “abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the] vulnerable young girl” to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.

Investigators believe he clearly groomed Thomas - who comes from a family of 10 children. They also believe there was careful planning for days, possibly weeks, before Cummins and the girl disappeared. 

They fear he's now avoiding busy roads and may now even be in a different vehicle.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been called in to assist with the case.   

Investigators held a press conference Wednesday afternoon urging the public to be vigilant. Josh Devine said the department has received 80 tips so far.  

They also released surveillance video of Cummins filling up his gas tank before leaving with Thomas.

Thomas was described as having blonde hair and hazel eyes, about 120 pounds and 5'5" tall. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings in Columbia and may be in the area of Decatur, Alabama.

Officials asked anyone with information on where she could be to call the Maury County Sheriff's Office at 931-375-8654 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.