Tad Cummins turned up in a remote northern California community with a tale of misfortune to tell, according to Griffin Barry, the man whose tip led police to the fugitive Tennessee teacher. Barry tells CNN that when Cummins, 50, and 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas arrived in Cecilville last week, he said he was 44 and she was his 22-year-old wife. Barry says Cummins claimed to be from Colorado and said he was down to his last $10 and on his way to a commune after losing everything in a house fire. Barry says he gave them $40 cash and $15 in gas—and after they returned, saying the commune didn't work out, he gave Cummins work moving rocks and a small cabin to stay in.
Barry says he became suspicious after noticing that Cummins tried to keep Thomas away from other people, and that their vehicle had no license plates. He says he called police Wednesday evening after somebody he talked to in a bar looked up the fugitive's photo online. Cummins, who is accused of plotting to kidnap the girl for sexual purposes, was arrested early Thursday. Thomas is now "comfortable and resting" with family back in Tennessee, lawyer Jason Whatley tells the Columbia Daily Herald. She is being evaluated by mental-health experts specializing in trauma, Whatley says, adding that he was "taken aback" when he first met her, because she is a "small child" who could easily pass for 12.