A high school health sciences teacher in the Tennessee town of Culleoka, Cummins had been suspended in February, less than a month after a student reported seeing him and the 15-year-old kissing in a classroom. Cummins was suspended from his job after he was allegedly caught kissing Elizabeth on school grounds, and he was sacked after he and Elizabeth went missing.
"When my neighbor called and told me, I thought 'Oh my God, no, we are way too far from (Tennessee),' " O'Hare said. "The other person would log in, read the message and then delete it and then write another message that was saved as a draft".
Cummins and Thomas had been in the cabin for about a week.
"And [Cummins] makes a reference to a body part of hers and how nice that looked", Maury County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Marcus Alright said.
Thomas' father, Anthony, told NBC News that he and his family were "overjoyed" that Elizabeth was finally found.
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How they got to Cecilville, California, and why they went there remains a mystery to investigators. Surveillance video from a gas station in Alabama later that day appeared to show Cummins. Elizabeth was with Cummins at the time and was detained at the scene for her protection.
Tad Cummins, 50, and Elizabeth Thomas, 15, in undated photos released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Cummins' wife later returned home to discover a note from her husband, in which he said he was heading to Virginia Beach or Washington to "clear his head". The wife, who works for the Maury County school system, said she had not seen her husband since March 13. The tip came in to the TBI at 11 p.m. CST on Wednesday night.
The tip came two weeks after Cummins was at the Super 8, the affidavit shows.
The teacher now faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, with a USA attorney in Tennessee saying later Thursday that he will also be hit with a federal charge of taking a minor across state lines to have sex. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) investigators are now heading to Siskiyou County to continue their on-going investigation.
There has only been one confirmed sighting of the pair since their disappearance last month, at a Walmart in Oklahoma.
"My neighbor noticed the vehicle didn't have a license plate and there was a girl in the auto that looked really young and never got out", O'Hare said. "It's a case of kidnapping", TBI Director Mark Gwyn said.
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