'He Stole My Daughter': Family of Teen Pleads for Her Safe Return After Former Teacher Allegedly Abducted Her
It remains unclear at this time if Thomas was taken against her will when she went missing
The family of Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas is begging for the safe return of the 15-year-old student after she went missing, believed to have disappeared with her former health teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins.
At a candlelight vigil where around 100 gathered on Saturday night, loved ones gave emotional speeches hoping for the Columbia, Tennessee, teen to come home, according to WKRN.
“What Tad did, he stole my daughter from me, but Maury County is a big community. He didn’t just steal from me, he stole from the Maury County community,” father Anthony Thomas said. “We are going to get her back. We are going to get her back. Please help us bring her home.”
Thomas’ sister broke down while talking to those gathered.
“I want you to come home because we all love you. I want to see you again,” adding, “She was the one who completed the family and made everything better,” before she began to cry and had to give the microphone away.
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Authorities said Thomas could be in imminent danger, as Cummins was said to be armed and dangerous with at least two weapons.
A warrant has been issued for Cummins’ arrest for alleged sexual contact with a minor, according to the Tennessee Bureau for Investigation. The charge stems from an earlier alleged sexual interaction between him and Thomas, which allegedly occurred on school property in Culleoka, Tennessee.
In addition to his sexual contact with a minor charges, authorities said in a news conference on Friday that they are charging him with aggravated kidnapping.
The wife of the alleged kidnapper issued a public plea for her husband to return home and bring the teenager back safe.
“Let me speak directly to my husband,” Jill Cummins said in an emotional statement at the Maury Country Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee on Friday, Fox-17 Nashville reported. “Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are. We can help you get through this. No matter how far you’ve gone or what’s happening right now, God’s grace is sufficient for you and He wants you to come home. Your family wants their Papi back. Please do the right thing, and turn yourself into the police and bring Beth home.”
It remains unclear at this time if Thomas was taken against her will when she went missing. But her family’s lawyer Jason Whatley previously told PEOPLE whether she went willingly or not, she is still a victim.
“This is a 15-year-old girl — and if they are together, she has been groomed by a 50-year-old authority figure, so how could we even define ‘willingly’?” Whatley said.
Thomas was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. She is 5 feet 5 inches inches tall and weighs 120 lbs., with blonde hair and hazel eyes.
Cummins was seen driving a Silver Nissan Rogue with a Tennessee license plate 976ZPT, according to the TBI. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 lbs., with brown hair and eyes.
Speaking with PEOPLE on Wednesday, a family source said, “I’m very scared for [Thomas]” — adding, “It’s so hard to understand what would bring someone to do these kinds of things.”
“I don’t understand how this is real life,” the source said.
Anyone with information on Cummins or Thomas should call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.