The search for a missing 15-year-old Tennessee girl believed to be with a teacher has “gone fairly cold,” Fox 17 Nashville reports.
The hunt for blond-haired Elizabeth Thomas entered a fifth day Friday. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is searching for her and 50-year-old Maury County Schools health teacher Tad Cummins. The TBI has issued a second Amber Alert for the girl. Investigators believe Cummins may have abducted the girl to “potentially sexually exploit her.”
“It's absolutely important that everyone in this nation know about these individuals because frankly, they could be anywhere right now,” TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said Thursday, according to the station. “We've amped up our language because we really need the public to know that this young girl is in danger.”
The pair may have driven to Decatur, Ala., on Monday, the station reported Thursday.
DeVine said that investigators have received 125 leads. He said that number was “alarmingly low.”
Cummins is believed to be armed with two handguns, according to the station. An arrest warrant accuses him of sexual contact with a minor.
A friend dropped Elizabeth off at a Shoney’s in Columbia, Tenn., Monday morning.
Authorities released surveillance video showing Cummins at a gas station near the restaurant a short time later.
TBI believes Cummins took out a $4,500 cash loan a few days ago.
Cummins, 50, was caught kissing Thomas at school Jan. 23, the attorney for the Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Thomas, told The Columbia Daily Herald.
Attorney Jason Whatley said school officials knew a day later but allowed Cummins to keep teaching until Feb. 6 while they investigated, the paper reported Thursday.
“Our client was only informed of the incident on Jan. 31,” Whatley told the paper. “All of his focus is on finding his daughter, and finding her alive. But we have grave concerns about the school's delay in telling Mr. Thomas, and for allowing him to remain in the classroom.”
The school district fired Cummins on Tuesday, according to Fox 17.