The father of Elizabeth Smart said Wednesday that he is worried the 15-year-old Tennessee student who is believed to have run off with her 50-year-old teacher is being manipulated.
“In our Elizabeth’s case they got her to this mindset where she believed that if she did anything they didn’t want her to do that they would come and kill her family,” Edward Smart told WKRN-TV.
Smart added that Elizabeth Thomas’ situation could be very different than when it started.
“You just can’t even imagine what’s going through a young girl’s head at this point at time,” he said. “Regardless of what Elizabeth Thomas’s situation might have started out to be it could be very different at this point.”
Smart’s daughter Elizabeth was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was forced to move around with her captors, but was mostly living off the grid before she was found.
Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland told WKRN-TV that he believes Thomas and Tad Cummins are living off the grid somewhere.
Cummins and Thomas were reportedly seen at a gas station in Collierville, Tenn. Thursday, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation later refuted the report, according to Fox 13 Memphis.
Cummins has been charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual conduct in the disappearance of Thomas on March 13. Thomas attended Culleoka Unit School in Maury County. Cummins had been suspended from the school after violating an order that prevented the teen from being in his classroom.
Officials revealed earlier this week that the pair allegedly developed a “romantic” relationship and were allegedly caught kissing in a classroom. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tweeted a photo from January showing Cummins and Thomas gazing at each other “days before his alleged inappropriate contact with her.”