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Tad Cummins has been added to Tennesee's "Top 10 Most Wanted" list for allegedly kidnapping 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas. (Credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

An ex-Tennessee teacher was allegedly seen kissing a teen before her disappearance


UPDATE: March 20 at 5:26 p.m. 

A 15-year-old Tennessee high school student was allegedly seen kissing her former teacher nearly two months before she went missing, according to ABC News

One of Elizabeth Thomas' schoolmates reported the incident on Jan. 23, the school's Jan. 30 investigative report shows. 

"It wasn't like a make-out kiss, just a peck on the lips," the student noted in a written statement to school district officials.

The school district reportedly removed Thomas from teacher Ted Cummins' class after it launched an investigation. The school district, however, said it was unable to find evidence that the kiss occurred. 

Authorities are still searching for Cummins and say the teen is "in imminent danger."

Original Story

The family of 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, who was allegedly kidnapped last week by a former teacher, made a plea for her return Saturday night during a candlelight vigil in Columbia, Tennessee. 

“I want you to come home because we all love you. I want to see you again,” one of her sisters said during the vigil, according to ABC affiliate WKRN

Authorities have added her alleged kidnapper, 50-year-old Ted Cummins, to the state's "Top 10 Most Wanted" list. 

Thomas was a freshman at the Culleoka, Tennessee, high school where Cummins taught until this Tuesday when he was fired. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Cummins was fired "in the wake of an ongoing investigation into alleged inappropriate contact he had with [Elizabeth] Thomas at the school earlier this year."

Authorities told ABC News that Cummins "may have been abusing his role" in an effort to potentially sexually exploit the teen. 

Thomas was last seen Monday at a restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, authorities told CNN. Cummins was captured on surveillance video getting gas nearby the restaurant, which isn't far from the school. 

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials said the two were then spotted 80 miles away in Decatur, Alabama. Neither have had contact with their families or been seen since. Authorities suspect Cummins is hiding in a secluded area or has left the Southeast altogether.  

Cummins is believed to have two handguns and about $4,500, which he took out as a loan several days before Thomas' disappearance. He may be driving a 2015 Nissan Rouge with Tennessee license plate 976 ZPT. 

The suspect's wife, Jill Cummins, made an emotional plea at a news conference on Friday, urging him to turn himself in. 

"Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are," she pleaded. "Please do the right thing and turn yourself in to the police and bring Beth home."

The TBI told ABC News it's received about 250 tips from 24 states so far.


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