The nation was relieved when the news broke that the missing Tennessee teacher and his teenage student had been found after a five-week search. The teen was not harmed physically. She is back home with her family and her kidnapper is in jail. He is using the defense that he did not kidnap her but went with her to protect her because she was going to run away with or without him. The lawyers will have to sort that one out because in Tennessee the law does state that children 12 and older can choose to leave home unless under force, threat or fraud.

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The 50-year-old teacher is Tad Cummins and 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas was his student. They were found 2,500 miles away from home on Thursday, April 20 in Northern California. The pair had been on the run for 48 days after traveling through nine different states.

Cummins and Thomas had been seen at home in Culleoka, Tennessee on March 13. It was about two months after another student reported seeing the two kissing in the teacher's classroom on January 23. Cummins was suspended after Culleoka Unit School learned about the incident the following day on January 24.

The pair was seen on surveillance tape at Walmart in Oklahoma City about 700 miles from Tennessee on March 15. After that time, they remained out of sight until last week when they were spotted about 50 miles south of the Oregon border.

Authorities said on Monday, April 24 that Cummins had obtained a $4,500 loan before they disappeared because he had planned to take the girl to Mexico. When they were found, Cummins has two guns in his wife's Nissan Rogue that he was driving. He was able to dodge police along the way because he had changed license plates several times.

The runaways stayed at least one night in a remote cabin near Cecilville, California where Cummins reportedly told the cabin caretaker that he was 44, and Elizabeth was his 22-year-old wife. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation estimated that officials processed more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states. Cummins could be charged with several felonies which carry a minimum of 10 years and the maximum is a life sentence.

The fine could up to $50,000. Before he was captured, Cummins was on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s 10 Most Wanted List.

Latest update

Elizabeth's father shared that at times his daughter seems to like her old self. Then there are other times when she is jittery and cries. People are wondering about Elizabeth's mother. Anthony Thomas filed a restraining order against his estranged wife, Kimberly Thomas. The order prohibits her from having any contact with him or their four minor children. She is also prohibited from discussing the family with the media.

Anthony filed for divorce after the kidnapping. He had been separated from his wife of 30 years since November 9, 2015, after finding out his wife was allegedly physically abusing their children. Cummins' wife, Jill, also filed for divorce from him on April 1 after being married for 31 years.