Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins, 50, had spent over a month on the run with his 15-year-old former student and victim Elizabeth Thomas before the two were found in a cabin in northern California’s Siskiyou County on Thursday.
On Friday, CNN’s Sara Sidner took viewers inside the remote hideout.
The cabin, the last on the owner’s property according to Sidner, was still in the process of being built — with no running water, electricity or heat piping into its tiny four-walled structure.
For food, the two used a portable grill to cook their meals. A bag of rice, canned food, some oranges and an onion can be seen in the footage.
A roll of toilet paper is also there.
“The FBI was in here for much of the day today and the sherif’s department the day before,” Sidner explained. “But what we also see is paperwork from the authorities. This one saying it’s a search and seizure warrant.”
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There was a long list of things that were taken out of the cabin too, including coconut oil and K-Y jelly, Sidner said. Those details are important, she said, as authorities are trying to establish if there was some sort of sexual relationship between Cummins and Elizabeth.
As previously reported, the caretaker of the cabin, Griffin Barry, said that he had encountered the two outside a gas station nearby. According to Barry, Cummins claimed that Elizabeth was 24 and that they had fallen on hard times and needed gas and a place to stay. Barry put them up in the unfinished cabin but later, when he saw their photos on a news report, he realized Cummins was the man that police were looking for and called in a tip.
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Cummins and Elizabeth vanished on March 13. The pair was the subject of an ongoing AMBER Alert, and investigators had said they were “off the grid.” Authorities allege he “groomed” her for months. Cummins was suspended from his job after he was allegedly caught kissing Thomas on school grounds, and he was fired after he and Thomas went missing. The two had also allegedly exchanged emails officials described as “romantic” in nature.
Prior to his capture, Tennessee authorities issued a warrant for Cummins’ arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor — the latter charge stemming from the alleged January kiss.
Cummins is currently in custody in California and is facing federal charges Jack Smith, the acting United States attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said on Thursday. It is not known if he has retained a lawyer yet.
Elizabeth returned to Tennessee on Thursday and was reunited with her family. Her family’s lawyer said in a statement that she is “comfortable and resting” and is being evaluated and treated by mental health experts specializing in trauma.