As the investigation into the alleged abduction of a 15-year-old Tennessee girl by her 50-year-old former teacher enters its second week, officials say the pair seems to have gone “off the grid.”
“We still information, lack of quality leads and a lack of quantity leads,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine says of the disappearance of Mary Catherine Elizabeth Thomas.
Thomas, who goes by Elizabeth, was reported missing in Maury County, Tennessee, on the afternoon of March 13 — after she asked a friend to drop her off at a local Shoney’s that morning.
Tad Cummins, a health science teacher at her high school, allegedly picked her up before she disappeared.
DeVine says investigators were able to place Thomas in Alabama last week, but they have not been able to locate the high school freshman since.
Investigators have received more than 450 tips, DeVine says.
“We firmly believe that they are essentially off the grid and Cummins has her out of public view,” he says, urging the public to search their properties, local camp grounds, rural areas and parking garages.
A warrant has been issued for Cummins’ arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, according to the TBI. The latter claim stems from an alleged sexual interaction between him and Thomas in January on school property.
“It’s been a week, and anything is possible,” DeVine tells PEOPLE. “They might have changed their appearance or changed their vehicle. We’re trying to cast the widest net possible.”
“She’s a high school freshman. He was a teacher accused of kidnapping her. Let’s find her now!” DeVine tweeted on Saturday. Cummins’ wife and Thomas’ family have also issued emotional pleas.
On Monday, investigators released new photos and surveillance footage of Cummins in a local Wal-Mart days before he allegedly kidnapped Thomas.
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