Tad Cummins, the man accused of kidnapping 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, had sex with the girl "most nights" while the two were missing, according to an FBI agent's testimony. FBI Agent Utley Noble also said 50-year-old Cummins, who was formerly Elizabeth's high school teacher, said the two began having a sexual relationship March 13, the day they disappeared.
A federal judge ruled Friday that Cummins was to be held until his trial on the grounds that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Holmes cited Cummins' abuse of his position of authority and his past attempts to evade police in issuing the decision.
"Here, the evidence of danger is substantial," she said.
An amber alert was issued for Elizabeth March 13 after she left her Tennessee home to attend a local restaurant and never returned. Police immediately suspected Cummins, a former teacher at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, who was being investigated by school officials and local police for having an inappropriate relationship with Elizabeth. Surveillance footage caught Cummins filling up his car at a gas station near the restaurant.
Investigators at the time were quick to caution that this could not be a consensual, romantic relationship.
"She is 15, a child. He is 50, a grown man," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director Mark Gwynn told reporters shortly after the two went missing. "She's a high school freshman. He's a former teacher. This is, and was, not a romance. This was manipulation solely to benefit Tad Cummins. This is not a fairy tale. This is a case of kidnapping."
After the pair vanished, they were spotted only once, when TBI officials confirmed a sighting of them on security footage from a Walmart in Oklahoma City.
The two were missing for 38 days before finally being located in Siskiyou County, a remote area of Northern California. Cummins was immediately arrested at the scene.
Cummins could face additional charges of statutory rape and prosecutors sought to obtain recordings between him and his soon-to-be ex wife, Jill. She filed for divorce from Cummins shortly after he disappeared.
"I asked, 'Well, did you sleep with her?' and he said, 'Yes I did,' and I didn't want any details," Jill told Inside Edition of a conversation she had with her husband while he was at a federal detention center in California.
Jill said she planned to have no relationship with her husband and was conspicuously absent from his first appearance in court. One of his daughters, however, said the past month's events had not changed her opinion of her father.
"He was the definition of what a good father should be and still is," Ashley Cummins, 26, told Inside Edition. "I believe that. He needs to at least know that everybody's not against him."
Cummins faces both federal and state charges and could receive life in prison if convicted. A date for his trial hasn't been set.