Kidnapped 15-year-old girl back home
Tennessee teacher accused of taking student six weeks ago
COLUMBIA, Tenn. — A 15-year-old Tennessee student who was allegedly kidnapped by her teacher six weeks ago and taken to California is back home, a lawyer for the girl’s family said Friday.
The girl is being evaluated and treated by mental health experts specializing in trauma, lawyer Jason Whatley said in a news release.
“There is no doubt that she has suffered severe emotional trauma and that her process of recovery is only just beginning,” Mr. Whatley said.
Authorities credit the caretaker of a remote northern California property for helping police find her and arrest her alleged abductor, fired teacher Tad Cummins.
After Griffin Barry became suspicious of two people he initially thought were in distress, his tip led police to the teacher accused of kidnapping his student and taking her on a 2,500-mile cross-country journey.
Mr. Barry said the pair told him their names were John and Joanna and they needed money for food, gas and a place to stay, ABC News “Good Morning America” reported Friday.
Mr. Barry, 29, said he became suspicious when the older man tried to keep the teen away.
“The girl wasn’t really looking at me or anything and he was always dominating the conversation. That kind of clues people in,” Mr. Barry said.
After seeing a photo of Mr. Cummins in an Amber Alert, Mr. Barry said he made the connection and called authorities.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office sent a tactical unit to the cabin Thursday morning.
Mr. Cummins was arrested after he came out the cabin with the girl walking behind him, the sheriff’s office said.
Mr. Cummins was cooperative with law enforcement, Siskiyou Sheriff Jon E. Lopey told The Associated Press.
He said the girl was at times “laughing, crying and acting stoic” after police found her at the remote cabin.
“These two had a relationship to the extent where she didn’t exhibit any anger toward him. I didn’t observe any emotional distress,” he said. “She didn’t act like a rescued person would act,” showing no signs of elation, he said. She appeared fine physically, Sheriff Lopey said, and there were no signs of trauma.
Two loaded guns were found in the cabin.
The Associated Press is not naming the girl or her family members because she is an alleged victim of a sex crime.
Mr. Cummins faces federal and state charges.
Police say he picked up the student in Columbia, Tenn., on March 13, triggering a six-week police manhunt.
Before leaving with the girl, Mr. Cummins had been suspended from teaching and police were zeroing in on him, questioning his relationship with the teen.
Mr. Cummins was fired about a month after being suspended — a day after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber