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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In an ironic twist of fate, a man from Nashville contributed to the capture of Tad Cummins and the safe rescue of Elizabeth Thomas early Thursday morning at a northern California cabin.
The man who called 911, Griffin Barry, is from Brentwood. He is now the caretaker of a forested California property, which includes a gas station, Frisbee golf course, and at least two small cabins.
He said Cummins made up a story about being from Colorado, according to our ABC-affiliate KDRV-TV. The former Maury County teacher reportedly told Barry their home caught fire, and he and Thomas were in need of money.
Barry said Cummins and Thomas were looking for the Black Bear Ranch commune but were flat broke and out of gas.
“I put some gas in his car and gave him 40 dollars and said if it doesn’t work, come back, I’ll feed you you, know what I mean?” said Barry.
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They reportedly made it to the ranch, but members of the commune knew something was amiss.
“I feel a little funny because there were all kinds of indications that there was something a little funny going on never occurred to me that she was 15 years old. They said she was 22, I thought, ‘Yeah…” said Peter LaughingWolf.
LaughingWolf said when the commune told Cummins it wouldn’t be a good fit for the commune, he reportedly stormed off with his young victim.
“What really should have been a clue that something was wrong was that he got so angry when that was shared with them,” added LaughingWolf.
Cummins and Thomas went back to the property Barry tends and he said they could stay in his cabin if they agreed to work on the property.
They stayed at the cabin for around 36 hours before Barry became suspicious.
“A woman showed me a picture and I was like, ‘That is definitely the guy,’ so then called the 911 last night,” he explained.
Deputies ultimately located Cummins’ Nissan Rogue, which had the license plate removed but was verified through its VIN number, and kept the SUV under surveillance for hours.
When day broke, Cummins was spotted and taken into custody without further incident after he walked out of the cabin on Eddy Gulch Road. Thomas was subsequently rescued.
Cummins could face eight to 12 years on the aggravated kidnapping charge and acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said the federal charge carries a required minimum sentence of 10 years behind bars, but the former Maury County teacher’s sentence could be “possibly quite longer.”
Cummins also faces one count of sexual contact with a minor from an incident that allegedly happened earlier this year. A student reportedly witnessed him kiss Thomas while at school in late January.