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Tennessee kidnapping suspect wanted to take teen to Mexico, court documents say

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Elizabeth Thomas

A federal judge approved the request for Cummins to return to Tennessee to face felony charges of kidnapping his former student, 15-year-old, Elizabeth Thomas.

The new details came to light in a motion filed Monday against Tad Cummins, 50, in which prosecutors make their case to keep him in custody until his trial.

Anthony Thomas called Cummins "a very poor excuse for a teacher and authority figure, a father. he's a poor excuse for a human being", reacting to an interview with Cummins' sister defending her brother's actions.

Federal court documents filed Monday show that Cummins traveled through nine states, ultimately planning to take the teen to Mexico before he was captured last week in Northern California.

Although the girl was identified in some earlier reports, the Los Angeles Times is not naming her or her family members because she is an alleged victim of a sex crime.

Cummins admitted he had gotten a small watercraft and conducted a test run from San Diego to Mexico, where he planned to take the teenager, according to a federal complaint.

Cummins, who appeared in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and chains shackled around his waist, didn't speak at all.

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Documents also revealed that Cummins fled Tennessee because he was anxious an investigation would ruin his relationship with the teen.

Authorities now said Cummins went to extreme measures to stay hidden with the girl.

Danielle Thomas said the family's first inclination when Elizabeth went missing was that she had run away. "She put her hand over my shoulder and patted my back and said, 'It's okay, '" he recalled. During 38 days on the run, Cummins tried to avoid detection by switching license plates on a 2015 Nissan Rogue he stole from his wife and disabling its GPS system, authorities said. That charge carries a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, but Cummins could be sentenced to as much as life as prison, according to the USA attorney's office.

Cummins reportedly "made a number of damaging admissions to law enforcement that provide alarming inside his mentality", the documents states. He also faces charges in Maury County, Tennessee for the sexual relationship with the girl and with aggravated kidnapping. TBI investigators said Cummins, who had been the teen's health teacher at Culleoka Unit School, may have planned to abduct Elizabeth well before he picked her up at a Shoney's restaurant in Columbia, Tenn.

The father told News 2 he's been able to see her several times since then, saying she's relaxing little by little but "you can still tell she's very sensitive to too much going on".

"Elizabeth Thomas is in a safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting".

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