Tennessee teen, Elizabeth Thomas, has been missing over 7 days and authorities have good reason to believe she was kidnapped by her teacher, Tad Cummins. Neither Elizabeth nor Cummins has been in touch with their families, authorities said.
But most alarming is what one of Thomas' siblings just revealed to Whatley.
About 100 people gathered at Riverwalk Park for a candlelight vigil Saturday night in honor of Elizabeth Thomas, who is at the center of a statewide Amber Alert.
Cooper told reporters during a press conference on Friday that Thomas has had a "difficult life", but declined to elaborate, The Tennessean reports. The TBI has issued a second Amber Alert for the girl and investigators believe Cummins may have abducted the girl to "potentially sexually exploit her". "She stated students hang out in his classroom a lot".
Devine said even though it has been a week, they remain hopeful. He was formally dismissed a day after Thomas went missing.
The Jan. 30 school report determined that it "could not be confirmed" the alleged kiss happened.
"I'm not asking him to turn himself in". Cummins had been the teen's health teacher.
"The statement, as we understand, is that if she was not back by 6 p.m. that evening that law enforcement should be called", Whatley continued.
The sheriff said Cummins may have begun plotting to leave with Elizabeth after he was suspended from his teaching job.
A subsequent letter from the district to Cummins on February 3 stated that Elizabeth was in the teacher's classroom that day, which the letter said violated a previous order by the district.
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The school district did not respond to a request for comment. He was formally fired on Tuesday.
The school district did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
Authorities said there had been no credible sightings of Elizabeth or of Cummins since Monday, when she was seen in Decatur, Alabama - the same day that grim posts appeared on her and Cummins' social media accounts, NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville, Tennessee, reported.
"I had no idea my husband was involved with anything that has led to all this". Cummins' wife and Thomas' family have also issued emotional pleas. Another family member added, "Bring her back to us or allow her to call and let us know she is ok".
Cummins is charged with sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.
So far, the TBI has received 450 tips from more than 20 states. "He stole her from the whole community", said Elizabeth's father, Anthony Thomas. "We can help you get through this". We are praying desperately for her safe return.
Cummins is believed to be armed with two handguns and is driving a silver Nissan Rogue with the Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT.
DeVine urges anyone who believes they spot Cummins or Thomas to not approach them and instead keep an eye on them while calling 911.
The teenage girl is described as being white with blond hair and hazel eyes, and is 5 foot 5 inches and 120 pounds.
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