CECILVILLE, Calif. (WKRN) – The former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student was arrested Thursday at a northern California cabin.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Tad Cummins, 50, was taken into custody and the student was safely rescued in Cecilville, California, in Siskiyou County.
The TBI says they received a tip at 11 p.m. Central Wednesday night from a California resident who said he believed he saw the student and Cummins and had information that they had taken up residence in a cabin in Cecilville over the last week and a half.
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said they notified authorities in Siskiyou County, who had “challenges to overcome” in locating the pair. The area was a “very remote, isolated area with no or limited cell phone service.”
Deputies ultimately located Cummins’ Nissan Rogue, which had the license plate removed but was verified through its VIN number, and kept the SUV under surveillance for hours.
When day broke, Cummins was spotted and taken into custody without further incident. The 15-year-old was subsequently rescued.
“Our Intelligence Analysts and Agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”
The TBI originally said the pair was found at a commune in Cecilville and later said it was a rural cabin.
At some point while in northern California, the pair did stay at the Black Bear Ranch commune for at least two days but were asked to leave, according to our ABC-affiliate KDRV-TV. Click here to read about Black Bear.
The two vanished from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13. An AMBER Alert was issued across the state of Tennessee the following day, and Cummins was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on March 17.
The 50-year-old already faced one count of kidnapping in the case, which has since been upgraded to aggravated kidnapping. He now also faces a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of having criminal sexual intercourse.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said the charge carries a required minimum sentence of 10 years behind bars, but Cummins’ sentence could be “possibly quite longer.”
Cummins also faces one count of sexual contact with a minor from an incident that allegedly happened earlier this year. A student reportedly witnessed him kiss the missing student while at school in late
As of 3 p.m. Thursday, Cummins remained in the custody of the Siskiyou County jail where he’s being held without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee. A mugshot was not immediately released.
Maury County Schools, where Cummins taught until he was fired the day after he disappeared with the student, released a statement on the conclusion of the case.
School officials said the student’s safe return is “wonderful news for our community, and now, we can begin healing as a community, school district, and as families touched by the AMBER Alert.”
The statement continued, “The efforts of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Maury County Sheriff’s Office, nationwide law enforcement community and media outlets promoting awareness of this case have brought us to this safe conclusion, and Maury County Public Schools wants to thank these many professionals for the good news today.”