Family who have seen Thomas say 48 hours before rescue were ‘most traumatic’

Danielle Thomas (Photo: WKRN)

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COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Family members who have spent time with Elizabeth Thomas after her return to Tennessee say she told them the 48 hours before her rescue were the most traumatic.

Danielle Thomas, Elizabeth’s sister-in-law, told News 2 she spent time with the 15-year-old at an undisclosed location where Thomas is staying for evaluation.

She said Elizabeth seemed fragile and didn’t look well.

“Her hair was cut short, the shortest I’ve ever seen it, and she was a little pale,” she explained.

Danielle Thomas added Elizabeth has lost a lot of weight and the teen told her the last 48 hours before she was found in a cabin in northern California were the most traumatic for her.

“It was really heart-wrenching [is] what she said,” she said.

(Graphic: WKRN; Photos: TBI)

RELATED: Timeline of search for Elizabeth Thomas, Tad Cummins 

Danielle’s visit with Elizabeth was supervised and she was instructed not to ask the teen certain questions.

She told News 2 she tried to use humor to comfort her young sister-in-law.

“I pretty much just was like, ‘Hey, remember when…’ or, ‘Hey, remember when…’ And it’s a funny joke I told her,” Danielle said.

According to Danielle, Elizabeth is choosing who she wants to spend time with.

“One of her main concerns was that she wanted to be safe. She wanted to feel safe and stay in one room that was behind closed doors that the only way you could get in was with a code,” she explained.

Elizabeth’s brother James has also been spending time with her since her return last week. He said he will never forget the moment of being reunited with Elizabeth.

“I told her I love you. I am glad you are back. I missed having you around. We have a special handshake and we did that. It was the biggest moment,” he recalled.

James said that special handshake is something they did every time they saw each other.

“The first thing I did was just start it and she went into it,” he said, adding it was the first time he saw his sister smile.

James Thomas (Photo: WKRN)

“After talking to her, something is different or off,” James said. “It’s something I hope we can get her help through.”

The family’s attorney added, “The family prays and hopes that she can get beyond that and have a very successful life, but he has made that very difficult,” Jason Whatley said.

Elizabeth Thomas was at the center of an AMBER Alert for more than a month before she was rescued from a cabin in northern California last Thursday. Her accused kidnapper, Tad Cummins, a former teacher in Maury County, now faces federal charges.

The 50-year-old man remains in custody in California. It is unknown when he will be returned to Tennessee.

Click here for complete coverage of the AMBER Alert for Elizabeth Thomas.