Tennessee girl safe; teacher arrested
Pair found near cabin month after police say man kidnapped her
A 15-year-old Tennessee girl was rescued near a cabin in a remote part of northern California, more than a month after her 50-year-old teacher kidnapped her and set off a nationwide manhunt.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A 15-year-old Tennessee girl was rescued near a cabin in a remote part of northern California on Thursday, more than a month after her 50year-old teacher kidnapped her and set off a nationwide manhunt, authorities said.
Health sciences teacher Tad Cummins surrendered to sheriff ’s deputies without incident in Cecilville, Calif., hours after they found his vehicle in the area, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. The girl was apparently healthy and unharmed, and authorities said their main concern was her emotional and mental state.
“We couldn’t be happier to tell you she will soon be on her way back home,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said.
Cummins faces a federal charge of taking a minor across state lines to have sex, as well as state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.
Authorities received a tip late Wednesday that the pair may have taken up residence, perhaps for more than a week, in the woods in Cecilville, where cellphone coverage is limited, bureau spokesman Josh Devine said. Authorities earlier said the arrest happened at a commune but later clarified that it occurred in a remote area, where the terrain was difficult to traverse and snow was still on the ground in some places.
The pair’s disappearance March 13 came after Cummins was investigated by the school system when another student reported seeing the then-married teacher kiss the girl at the Culleoka Unit School. Culleoka is a community about 60 miles south of Nashville near the Alabama state line.
“We’re so happy that California police worked quickly and were able to find them and get her safe,” one of the girl’s sisters told The Tennessean.
“I believe the FBI are going to make sure she’s healthy before she comes home,” she said. “We’ll make sure she’ll get what therapy she needs and that she’s safe, that she knows she’s safe.”
Court papers filed recently in the girl’s disappearance said she was afraid of the teacher and thought she would face repercussions at school if she resisted him.
A lawyer for the girl’s family has said the teacher was allowed to continue working at the school for two weeks after he was reported kissing the girl. Attorney Jason Whatley has said the school system must have not believed the student’s report.