TBI: 'Alarmingly low' number of leads received for missing teen

Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas (Source: TBI)
Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas (Source: TBI)

(WMC) - The man accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl was a teacher who spent a lot of time grooming her to be his victim, according to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

TBI agents are trying to find Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas, 15, who was last seen Monday after being dropped off at a restaurant by a friend in Columbia, Tennessee.

Investigators believe she is with Tad Cummins, 50, who has been working toward luring her away from her loved ones to sexually exploit her.

"At this point, we have received only approximately 125 leads and let me start off by saying there have been no credible sightings of these individuals since we issued the Amber Alert on Monday," TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said. "If 125 leads sounds like a low number, it is. It is the lowest number of leads for an Amber Alert that we've seen go this long. It is alarmingly low."

DeVine said the low number of leads causes investigators to reach one of two conclusions.

"Either these two individuals, Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins, are out of the view of the general public right now or they are outside of the original net that we cast, really, across the southeast when we were first communicating this information to law enforcement."

DeVine said TBI issued a nationwide BOLO because they are not sure where the missing teen or Cummins are at right now.

"We all know you can get in a car and drive pretty much anywhere in the span of three days," he said. "That's why we really need this girl's picture, we need his picture, we need this vehicle information out there across the nation at this point because, really, they could be anywhere."

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DeVine said the case has grown 'fairly cold' and they are concerned for the teenager's safety, "We really need the public to realize this young girl is in danger."

TBI said there have been no credible sightings of the two individuals, despite reports that they were in Alabama. A possible sighting was called in from Memphis on Wednesday, but that search came up empty.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation believes the two are in a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976ZPT.

Thomas has blonde hair and hazel eyes. She is 5'5" tall and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings.

Cummins is 6' tall and weighs 200 pounds with brown hair and eyes.

TBI urges the public to remain vigilant and report any information that may prove beneficial in the ongoing search to 1-800-TBI-FIND. If you spot the vehicle and can verify the license plate to be TN 976ZPT, call 911.

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