Tennessee girl safe, teacher arrested near California cabin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A 15-year-old Tennessee girl was rescued near a cabin in a remote part of northern California on Thursday, more than a month after her 50-year-old teacher kidnapped her and set off a nationwide manhunt, authorities said.
Health sciences teacher Tad Cummins surrendered to sheriff’s deputies without incident in Cecilville, California, hours after they had set up surveillance on his vehicle in the area, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. The girl was apparently healthy and unharmed, and authorities said their main concern was her emotional and mental state.
“We couldn’t be happier to tell you she will soon be on her way back home to Tennessee,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said.
Cummins faces state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor as well as a federal charge of taking a minor across state lines to have sex. If convicted of the federal charge, he faces at least 10 years in prison, acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said.
Authorities declined to answer a question on whether the girl went willingly, saying it didn’t matter.
“At the end of the day she’s 15 years old, she’s 15 years old, she’s a young girl that’s with a grown man that’s 50 years old. He needs to be held accountable for kidnapping this girl,” Gwyn said.
Authorities received a tip late Wednesday night that the pair may have taken up residence in the woods in Siskiyou County, perhaps for more than a week, bureau spokesman Josh DeVine said. The remote, mountainous area has limited cellphone service and the terrain is difficult to traverse. Snow was still on the ground in some places.
Authorities had earlier said the arrest happened at a commune but later clarified that it occurred in a very remote area and that they were still collecting evidence.
The pair’s disappearance March 13 came after Cummins was investigated by the school system when another student reported seeing the then-married teacher kiss the girl at the Culleoka Unit School. Culleoka is a community about 60 miles south of Nashville near the Alabama state line.