Attorney asks for privacy as Thomas family focuses on Elizabeth

Jason Whatley, the Thomas family attorney (Photo: WKRN)

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Five days after her return, the attorney for the Thomas family released a statement Monday asking for privacy as they focus on Elizabeth’s recovery.

The 15-year-old was the center of a more than month-long AMBER Alert after she disappeared with her former teacher, Tad Cummins.

Thomas was rescued last Thursday at a cabin in northern California and Cummins was arrested. He remains in federal custody and is expected to be returned to Tennessee in the near future.

“The family owes each group, law enforcement, the media and the public a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid,” Jason Whatley, the Thomas family’s attorney said, in a statement.

Elizabeth Thomas (Courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

MORE: Read the family’s full statement.

Whatley said it was those reasons why the Thomas family felt compelled to offer interviews with the media after Elizabeth’s return.

“It is time to focus only on Elizabeth and her recovery, which could easily take an extended period of time. While the family wants sincerely to keep those who have grown to care for Elizabeth informed, at this time they must ask for privacy as they navigate these very important next few weeks and even months,” he said.

MORE: Timeline of search for Elizabeth Thomas, Tad Cummins

The Thomas family continues to ask for prayers, not only for Elizabeth, but for Cummins’ family, too.

Photo of Tad Cummins a week before he and Elizabeth Thomas disappeared. (Courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

“They too are dealing with extreme loss and sadness. The members of both families mourn that this horrific ordeal ever happened.”

Elizabeth is at an undisclosed location where she is being evaluated. Family members previously said she has lost a lot of weight and is choosing who she wants to spend time with.

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