Tenn. teacher accused of kidnapping teen planned escape to Mexico

Tenn. teacher accused of kidnapping teen planned escape to Mexico

Elizabeth was found April 19 in California with her former teacher Tad Cummins, who is suspected of having kidnapped her.

Authorities credit the caretaker of the remote Northern California property for helping police find the girl.

The motion, filed with the US District Court Eastern District of California, seeks an order that Cummins can not overcome the statutory presumption that he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Cummins reportedly "procured a small watercraft and conducted a test run to cross into Mexico across the water from San Diego".

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After taking out a loan for $4,500, court records said, the teacher took the money and two handguns and wrote a note to his wife saying he needed to go to Virginia Beach or the Washington, D.C., area to clear his head.

The incident began March 13, when Thomas, went missing in Culleoka, Tennessee.

Mr Thomas said it is important that she is given time to heal.

Tad Cummins, accused of kidnapping Elizabeth and disappearing with her for five weeks, is in federal custody.

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S. Jason Whatley, the family attorney of the Thomases, has just released a statement that 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas was comfortable in the company of her family.

Cummins spoke only briefly in court to confirm his identity, and agreed to be returned to Tennessee to face trial there. It's unclear when their relationship turned physical, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Cummins was "abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl ... to lure and potentially sexually exploit her".

In an earlier interview Monday with CNN, Elizabeth's sister-in-law, Danielle Thomas, said Elizabeth may have thought she and Cummins were going on a one-day excursion and didn't anticipate leaving for more than a month and traveling more than 2,000 miles away. That charge carries a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, but Cummins could be sentenced to as much as life as prison, according to the US attorney's office.

Anthony Thomas, the teen's father, told "Good Morning America" on Friday that he thinks his daughter was "brainwashed".

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Cummins and Thomas were found last Thursday after a nationwide manhunt. They'd been missing from Culleoka, Tennessee, for 39 days. Cummins was suspended from the school in February after he violated an order to avoid contact with Elizabeth. Galloway said his client was not a unsafe flight risk because the allegations against him do not include threats or coercion and that this is "not an abduction or kidnapping". So she spends a lot of time with a therapist while visitation with family and friends is limited.

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