As a manhunt continues for a 50-year-old teacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old female student, details about the pair's alleged relationship are being revealed by way of school documents. WKRN reports on a report produced by Tennessee's Maury County School Administration after its investigation into Tad Cummins' relationship with the minor. Elizabeth Thomas was a student in Cummins' Forensics class at Culleoka Unit School, and per the report, a middle-school student observed the pair kissing—"It wasn't a makeout kiss, just a peck on the lips," said the student—on Jan. 23. Distressed, the student asked Cummins the next day about the nature of his relationship with the freshman. He allegedly said he was a father figure to Elizabeth, whom he said was dealing with an abusive home life, and saw her as a best friend.
The student reported the two to administrators. Cummins and Elizabeth denied the kiss, but the freshman was taken out of his class and the two were told not to be in the same room at any point. Elizabeth was observed in his classroom for 30 minutes on Feb. 3, and Cummins was suspended on Feb. 6. The teen has been missing since last Monday, and the two are believed to be together. CBS News reports the two posted what it calls "cryptic" messages on Instagram last Monday, Elizabeth's about Beauty and the Beast, and Cummins' reading, "Good morning all! This is going to be an amazing day! Let's do this! #strong #unbreakable #love." The Maury County Sheriff told WKRN they have reason to believe Cummins had been preparing to live off the grid; per the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, "investigative efforts ... indicates [sic] he potentially planned this abduction prior to Monday." It has fielded tips from 24 states.