NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The father of Elizabeth Thomas told ABC’s Good Morning America he believes she was brainwashed by Tad Cummins.
Anthony Thomas said his daughter will need therapy and that her family will be patient with her and get her the help she needs.
Thomas appeared to be in good health at the time of her rescue Thursday morning.
She is expected to be reunited with her family in Tennessee in the near future and will fly back home on a TBI aircraft.
Thomas family attorney Jason Whatley told News 2 the family will be in seclusion upon Thomas’ return to Tennessee.
“We credit the media along with law enforcement for Elizabeth’s safe return and so just the fact of it is, the system worked the way it was supposed to work and so the family has a debt of gratitude that is really indescribable,” added Whatley.
The two vanished from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13. An AMBER Alert was issued across the state of Tennessee the following day, and Cummins was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on March 17. During the course of the investigation, the TBI said it received around 1,500 tips in the case.
The 50-year-old already faced one count of kidnapping in the case, which has since been upgraded to aggravated kidnapping. He now also faces a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of having criminal sexual intercourse.
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.