Family of Missing Tennessee Teen Reacts as She's Recovered Safely: 'The Best Day We Could Have Ever Imagined'

"TBI said she appeared to be in physical healthy condition," Thomas' older sister, Kat Bozeman, tells PEOPLE

More than a month after she first vanished, the Tennessee teen allegedly kidnapped by her teacher has been found safe in California – ending her family’s ongoing nightmare.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic, what other things could we say?” Elizabeth Thomas’ grandmother, who opted to remain unidentified, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “And we’re very appreciative for all the people that prayed for this day to happen.”

Thomas, 15, and Tad Cummins, 50, were found in Northern California, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday. Cummins was arrested.

The pair disappeared on March 13 from Maury County, Tennessee, and were the subject of an ongoing AMBER Alert.

“TBI said she appeared to be in physical healthy condition,” Thomas’ older sister, Kat Bozeman, tells PEOPLE. “We don’t know about her mental state as of this moment. We know the police retrieved her and trying to bring her back home.”

Bozeman adds, “We’re excited. We’re absolutely thrilled and blessed to have her safe and on her way home. Its’ amazing, this is the best day we ever could have imagined.”

Thomas’ older brother James Thomas further tells PEOPLE, “I’m gonna do everything I can to do my best to make sure she gets into counseling and she gets the help she needs. She’s only been gone 36 days, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but at the same time being in that situation for that period of time had to have had some effect on her.”

Authorities allege that Cummins spent months grooming Thomas. He was suspended from his job at Culleoka Unit School after he was allegedly caught kissing the freshman student on school grounds. After the pair went missing, Cummins was fired.


A warrant had been issued for Cummins’ arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor — the latter charge stemming from the alleged kiss earlier this year.

The TBI announced it would reveal more details about Cummins’ arrest and Thomas’ recovery at a 4 p.m. ET press conference on Thursday.

Related Articles