A former Culleoka, Tennesee school teacher was arrested today in a mountainous region in northern California following a month-long manhunt after he kidnapped one of his students.
50-year-old Tad Cummins, married and a father of two, was suspended from his job as a schoolteacher after an inappropriate relationship with the victim, a 15-year-old girl. He was caught kissing her in his classroom.
The victim had been abused by her mother, charged with five counts of child abuse and neglect last year. Prosecutors say this upbringing left the victim in a vulnerable state, prone to manipulation.
Cummins developed a relationship with the victim while she attended his class. After another student reported seeing Cummins kissing the 15-year-old girl in class when they were alone, the principal ordered Cummins not to have her in his classroom at any time or otherwise face penalties. Authorities were notified of the incident but could not charge Cummins at the time due to lack of evidence. The teacher and the victim both denied the kissing allegation, however, the school district and the police were not abandoning their investigations.
Suspended from his position after he violated the principal's order not to have her in his classroom, Cummins soon fled the state with the 15-year-old. Graphic text messages revealed the extent of their sexual relationship.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation stated, "Investigative efforts have determined that on March 10th, Cummins did online research about his Nissan Rogue, in an effort to determine if certain features could be tracked by law enforcement. Investigators also determined that five days earlier, on March 5th, Cummins did similar online research on the topic of teen marriage."
With the pair being spotted on Walmart surveillance footage in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 15, authorities knew the victim was still alive and in transit, but where to remained a mystery.
Then, on April 20, a cabin caretaker in a mountainous area near Redding, California alerted the Sheriff's Office of a suspicious man who was renting out the cabin, who didn't have license plates on his car and had a much younger female who would seldom talk, only in whispers to Cummins' ear.
Realizing the man was Cummins, authorities set up a heavy presence surrounding the cabin, including police snipers in the distance, to covertly bring Cummins into custody.
As part of the plan, the cabin caretaker asked Cummins for help outside. Not knowing police were everywhere, Cummins was snagged into custody as he exited the cabin. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping, sexual contact with a minor and transporting a minor across state lines for criminal sexual intercourse.
The victim will be reunited with her family after an evaluation.
Meanwhile, Cummins' wife filed for divorce.