Columbia, TN (WMC) - The nation breathed a sigh of relief after the suspect and victim at the center of a Tennessee Amber Alert were found safe. But recently filed court documents reveal disturbing details about the events leading up to the kidnapping, and what took place while the two were on the run.
Details that include allegations of romantic interactions at school, one bed motel rooms, an apology note, and KY Jelly are all contained in the federal document.
Tad Cummins, 50, disappeared with a former student, Elizabeth Thomas, on March 13 from Maury County, Tennessee.
Court documents filed in U.S. District Court reveal startling details about the relationship between Cummins and Thomas before the two disappeared.
According to the document, Cummins and Thomas "are involved in a sexual relationship and traveled in interstate commerce to continue their relationship and to engage in unlawful sexual activity."
It's a relationship that had been investigated previously, and culminated on March 13.
According to the complaint, investigators first received information the relationship between the two was inappropriate after a student at the school Cummins and Thomas reported the two kissing.
Almost two months before the kidnapping, on January 30, a student at Culleoka Unit School said he/she witnessed Cummins, a teacher at the school, kissing Thomas.
"A 12-year-old student walked into the classroom of teacher Tad E. Cummins after school and observed Cummins, who is fifty (50) years of age, engaged in a kiss with a student identified as [Thomas], who is fifteen (15) years of age," according to the complaint.
According to the student who reported the incident, it was more of a romantic kiss and not that of a father/daughter type of kiss. The student who witnessed the kiss said he/she confronted Cummins about what was seen.
Cummins admitted to the student that Thomas often went to church with him and his wife and that Thomas had a troubled past. The student also said Cummins "rambled on and on about how much he loved his wife."
When investigators spoke to Thomas, she told investigators that Cummins was consoling her after she had been involved in a confrontation with another teacher. Thomas said on January 23 she had a verbal argument with another teacher about going to the bathroom and she went to see Cummins. She told investigators that Cummins "held both of her hands around the wrist area and may have been closer to her face at the time, telling her she needed to calm down."
Both Cummins and Thomas denied any type of kiss happened.
Cummins told police his relationship with Thomas was that of a father and daughter relationship.
However, Thomas was placed on suspension from the school after he disobeyed an order to stay away from Thomas.
Surveillance video from the school on February 3 showed Thomas was in Cummins' classroom for more than 30 minutes. Although other students were present, Cummins had been ordered to stay away from Thomas while the investigation into their relationship was still ongoing. This contact between him and Thomas on February 3 violated that order. As a result, on February 6 he was suspended by the school.
Just over a month later, on March 13, Thomas and Cummins disappeared together after Thomas was dropped off by a friend at approximately 8:00 a.m. at Shoney's, located at 2225 Carmack Boulevard in Columbia.
Cummins told his wife that morning he had a job interview at the Williamson County Medical Center and asked to borrow her 2015 Nissan Rogue. His wife let him borrow the vehicle.
"Subsequent investigation revealed that Cummins had no scheduled interview," according to court records.
When his wife returned home that afternoon, she discovered a note Cummins had left for her saying he was going to Virginia Beach or the D.C. area to "clear his head". The note told his wife not to call the police and also said he had not done anything wrong. In the note, Cummins also made a plea for his wife to forgive him.
"Subsequent investigation revealed that Cummins had falsified information on the application to obtain the loan," according to the document.
Cummins wife did not contact police until the following day.
But, after Thomas did not return home that afternoon, her father called police and reported her missing. He told investigators that he believed she might be with Cummins.
The following day, March 14, Cummins' wife reported him missing to police and told police that Cummins had taken a $4,500 loan out the week prior to the kidnapping. She said the loan was supposed to be used to help pay their bills while he was suspended, but the money was gone. She also told police two handguns, clothes, and toiletry items were missing.
However, his wife also told investigators Cummins had a prescription for Cialis and had recently got a refill before he left town. Investigators discovered he received a refill for six pills on March 10, just three days before disappearing with Thomas.
"A drug commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction and prolong sexual performance," according to the document.
The two remained out of sight, with no confirmed sightings and multiple pleas from Cummins' wife and TBI agents, for a little over two weeks. But then, investigators received a break when they received a call on March 29 from a Super 8 Motel employee.
The employee said a search of their hotel's national database showed Cummins had stayed at the Super 8 in Oklahoma City on S. Prospect Street on March 15 and 16.
He also stayed in a Super 8 on March 16 and 17 in Guymon, Oklahoma.
At both of the hotels, he rented a room with only one bed.
Cummins and Thomas picked up supplies at Walmart in Oklahoma City on March 15 and then went to another Walmart the following day in Guymon. At the Guymon Walmart, he purchased women's razors, chocolate, cheese cubes, and KY Jelly with cash.
The two stayed off the radar for almost a month before being discovered on April 20 in Cecilville, California, where Cummins was arrested by law enforcement officials and Thomas was taken into protective custody until she was returned to her family in Tennessee.