Tipster Who Helped Police Find Teacher and Allegedly Abducted Student Will Receive $10K Reward
The California tipster who said he helped authorities find former teacher Tad Cummins and his alleged kidnapping victim, teenage student Elizabeth Thomas, will be presented with $10,000 in reward money later this week, PEOPLE confirms.
Griffin Barry said he alerted investigators on Wednesday night that Cummins and Elizabeth, 15, were living in a remote cabin in Cecilville, California — thousands of miles from Maury County, Tennessee, where the pair had vanished on March 13.
Cummins was arrested and Elizabeth was recovered safely soon after Barry’s tip, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who confirmed that an unidentified caller placed the crucial tip to them late Wednesday.
On Friday afternoon, Barry will be presented with his reward at the offices of the Thomas family’s attorney, S. Jason Whatley, in Columbia, Tennessee.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Barry spoke out last week after Cummins and Elizabeth were discovered. As he explained on Good Morning America, he had become suspicious of the girl’s shy behavior and the older man’s attempts to “keep her away.”
“The girl wasn’t really looking at me or anything,” he said, “and [Cummins] was always dominating the conversation. That kind of clues people in.”
Barry said he initially encountered the pair at a gas station in far Northern California. He said they gave their names as “John” and “Joanna” and explained that they needed money for gas, food and a place to stay.
Barry told Today that they said they were from Colorado and that Cummins claimed Elizabeth was 24 and he was in his 30s.
Barry paid for their gas, gave them $40 and set them up with accommodations in a Cecilville Cabin, he told GMA. Authorities have said they believe Cummins and Elizabeth stayed there for about a week and a half.
Barry later saw photos of the pair from news reports and realized Cummins was “the guy,” he said.
“I had a photo of him that was the AMBER Alert,” Barry said. “I was like, that’s definitely the guy, and then we saw the car as well and it matched up. Then we called the police right after that.”
Barry’s reward money was put forth by Cummins’ former coworker Chandler Anderson, WVLT reports.
“We are thrilled to write this check,” Anderson told the station.
• With GREG HANLON, reporting by HARRIET SOKMENSUER