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Tennessee student found safe, teacher arrested in California

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Tad Cummins' mugshot on the front page of the Daily Herald in Columbia Tenn

After five weeks on the run, a Tennessee teacher who kidnapped and fled with a 15-year-old student has been arrested in California, authorities said Thursday.

Authorities said a 15-year-old Tennessee girl who disappeared with Cummins, who was her teacher, last month has been found safe in California and the teacher has been arrested.

Officials say Cummins has been arrested and Thomas is safe.

Cummins' wife, Jill, had pleaded with her husband to turn himself in.

The Maury County Sheriff's Office investigators went to the Culleoka Unit School, where Cummins was a teacher and Thomas, a student. "(Thomas) advised that Cummins possibly held both of her hands around the wrist area and may have been close to her face at the time, telling her she needed to calm down". TBI contacted the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office and learned they had received the same tip from the same person.

Friday, March 31, 2017: The TBI confirmed a March 15 sighting of Thomas and Cummins at a Walmart in Oklahoma City.

The caller said Cummins had taken up residence in Cecilville, about two hours from the nearest police station.

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Cummins, the federal complaint says, is charged with taking a minor across states lines to have sex. "Whether she was "brainwashed or went willingly"?"

Cummins faces state charges of aggravated kidnapping and a misdemeanor charge, and a federal charge of transporting a minor across state lines for the objective of sexual intercourse.

The report recommended that the girl be taken out of Cummins' class and that he be reprimanded to uphold his professional responsibility.

Cummins Nissan Rogue was found in Siskiyou County, located in a remote area near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, about three hours northwest of Redding, California. Further investigation of that tip also led authorities to learn Thomas and Cummins visited another Wal-Mart store March 16, purchasing women's razors, chocolate, cheese cubes and KY Jelly, the report states. That room only had one bed.

"Our Intelligence Analysts and Agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states", TBI Director Mark Gwyn said in the statement. Snow is still on the ground in some places.

In addition to the state charges he was already facing, Cummins now faces a charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for the objective of having criminal sexual intercourse, which carries at least a 10 year prison sentence. Thomas was subsequently recovered by officers, and efforts to reunite her with her family are ongoing. The charge carries a minimum of 10 years.

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