YREKA, California--A former high school teacher and a 15-year-old student he is accused of abducting last month in Tennessee were traced to a cabin in northern California, where police on Thursday arrested him and took the girl into protective custody, authorities said.
Tad Cummins, 50, who vanished in mid-March with Elizabeth Thomas, was apprehended on a fugitive warrant charging him with aggravated kidnapping and unlawful sexual contact with a minor, law enforcement officials said.
He was arrested without incident on Thursday morning as he emerged from a small, rustic cabin in the mountains of rural Siskiyou County, California, about 60 miles (100 km) south of the Oregon border, county Sheriff Jon Lopey told reporters in nearby Yreka. The girl walked out behind him and was later turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for additional questioning and a forensic exam, authorities said.
Both Cummins and the teenager looked healthy, but the girl was visibly emotional as the ordeal came to an end, Lopey said. Investigators also recovered two loaded handguns and a collection of stones marked with the names of locations where the two had presumably stopped during their travels, Lopey said.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Giordano said the fugitive and his victim are believed to have stayed in the cabin for a day or two and were seeking odd jobs to earn money for food and gasoline in the surrounding Cecilville community. Authorities zeroed in on them based on tips from locals who reported seeing a man, a young female and a car without license plates matching the description of the suspect's vehicle as identified in media accounts about the kidnapping case.
“They’re a very tight-knit community," Giordano said. "The vehicle and Tad stood out, because they were not local.”
Police surrounded the cabin Wednesday night and waited until morning for the pair to emerge. Cummins told arresting officers that he felt relief, Giordano said, adding that a man who let Cummins use the cabin was not considered a suspect.