SACRAMENTO — A federal judge in California on Monday approved a request to transfer Tad Cummins back to Tennessee, where he’ll face charges of kidnapping a teenage girl
Cummins, 50, and 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas disappeared in March for five weeks but were found last week.
The Tennessee teacher was arrested Thursday and the teen was recovered in Northern California after a nationwide search.
Cummins, who appeared at an arraignment in Sacramento, walked into court wearing an orange prison jumpsuit that said “Sac Co prisoner” and he was shackled with a chain around his waist.
He didn’t say a word aloud and listened intently to Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman.
Cummins turned his head toward the prosecutor, who argued he was a danger and a flight risk. The US attorney said two guns were found in Cummins’ vehicle.
Benjamin Galloway was appointed as his public defender in California. Galloway said his client was not a dangerous flight risk because the allegations against him do not include threats or coercion and that this is “not an abduction or kidnapping.”
Galloway said his client looks forward to going to Tennessee as soon as possible to fight the charges against him.
Cummins was read the federal charge against him: transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse. The charge carries a minimum of 10 years. The maximum is life. The fine is up to $50,000.
Getting back to normal
Elizabeth is safe and working to return to a normal life.
Friends and family are gently interacting with and approaching her as she copes with the aftermath of her ordeal, her sister told a CNN affiliate.
“It’s a long, long road ahead of us,” Kat Bozeman told WKRN in Tennessee.
“What do you say in these circumstances? You want to ask so many things, but then you know that’s not what she needs. You’re speechless,” Bozeman said. “You don’t know what to say because she’s been through something very traumatic.”
‘Roller coaster’ for family
Bozeman was reunited with her sister on Friday. She said Elizabeth is in a mental health facility where she is being treated. She said she spends a lot of time with a therapist and visitation with family and friends is limited.
The last few days have been emotional, Bozeman said, describing the time as a “roller coaster.” There hasn’t been much discussion about the ordeal itself.
“She told us she didn’t have access to a telephone, Internet, any electronic devices. There was not availability to food all the time, is the understanding. Obviously, we are really trying not to press her, because it’s really traumatic for her to remember all of these things,” Bozeman said.
But her sister is “very happy” and pleased to eat food, drink coffee and shower.
“She was abducted and she’s grateful to be home,” she said.
‘I’m glad this is over’
Cummins also faces state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last month.
Under Tennessee law, children 12 and older can choose to leave home unless under “force, threat or fraud.”
When he was captured, Cummins, 50, told deputies, “I’m glad this is over.”
The incident began March 13, when Thomas, went missing in Culleoka, Tennessee. Cummins, too, was gone, after borrowing his wife’s Nissan Rogue and having recently filled prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medicine and securing a $4,500 loan.
Surveillance images showed them at a Walmart in Oklahoma City on March 15.
They were found after staying at least a night in a remote cabin 2,500 miles from home near Cecilville, California, near the Oregon border. Cummins reportedly told the tipster who called the police that the girl was his 22-year-old wife.