Lawyer: Kidnapped 15-year-old girl back home in Tennessee

  • Lawyer: Kidnapped 15-year-old girl back home in Tennessee

Lawyer: Kidnapped 15-year-old girl back home in Tennessee

A California sheriff says a Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student got the idea to go to a commune after visiting Berkeley, a city long known as a counterculture hotbed. She is being evaluated and treated by mental health experts specializing in trauma.

Family attorney S. Jason Whatley says the family is celebrating.

Authorities say an alert caretaker of a remote northern California property tipped police, who found the girl Thursday and arrested her alleged abductor, fired teacher Tad Cummins. The teacher, however, acknowledged that the girl was "a really good friend and she does leave her other classes to come see him when she needs someone to calm her down", according to a school report dated January 30.

"John (Cummins) didn't offer to help out, they did help with the chickens one time and did the dishes a couple of times, but they seemed lazy, they didn't want to do anything", Sophia said, noting that commune rules require residents to work a minimum of four hours per day.

Thomas' friend, Ashlee Riggins, told NBC News that she was surprised that the pair had traveled as far as California and was thankful that the cabin owner caught on to them. "That kind of clues people in", Barry said.

After Thomas was found, authorities described her as "healthy and unharmed", but said they were concerned about her state of mind and emotional well-being.

Siskiyou County Sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Giordano did not immediately return a call for comment.

Tad Cummins surrendered to police Thursday morning without incident as he exited the cabin, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department.

When he was captured, Cummins, 50, told deputies "I'm glad this is over".

Whatley said that after meeting the teen for the first time, he was "taken back at who she is". "She had this confidence", he said. "So (I'll) try to help you out, '" Barry said.

"Well, right ways she's like herself and in ways she's not", her brother said. She appeared fine physically, Lopey said, and there were no signs of trauma.

Inside the cabin, they found a single sleeping pad, clothing and two loaded guns, authorities said.

Police say teacher Tad Cummins kidnapped the girl from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13.

The Tennessee teenager who was allegedly kidnapped by a teacher more than a month ago - and recovered in California this week - has been reunited with her family, an attorney for them said.

Cummins faces federal and state charges.

He had just been suspended from teaching and police were zeroing in on him, questioning his relationship with the girl.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released an amber alert following Thomas' abduction. Cummins, too, was gone, after borrowing his wife's Nissan Rogue and having recently filled prescriptions for erectile disfunction medicine and securing a $4,500 loan. But instead, authorities say he picked the student up in Columbia, Tennessee, setting off a six-week police manhunt.

He also faces state charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last month.

He said his daughter had told authorities that she was afraid her father would be mad at her. Culleoka is a community about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Nashville near the Alabama state line.

Associated Press writer Kristin J. Bender in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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