YREKA, Calif. (Reuters) - A former schoolteacher, who is accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old Tennessee teenager and taking her on a month-long odyssey that ended with his arrest in California, will appear in federal court in Sacramento on Monday, authorities said Friday.
Tad Cummins, 50, who was found Thursday with the girl in a cabin in a remote corner of Northern California, was taken from a jail cell in Yreka, about 60 miles (100 km) south of the Oregon border, by federal agents shortly before he was due to make an appearance in a California state court.
Cummins is now in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Sacramento, according to the sheriff’s office in Siskiyou County, where he was apprehended.
He faces a federal kidnapping charge of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, according to the warrant for his arrest. Cummins may also face state charges in Tennessee and California.
The girl, Elizabeth Thomas, returned to Tennessee on Friday, according to a statement from S. Jason Whatley, her family’s attorney.
Sheriff’s deputies on Thursday rescued Thomas and arrested Cummins, a former teacher at her school in Maury County, Tennessee, from a cabin near Yreka.
The two became the subject of a nationwide search after he apparently lured the girl into his car outside a restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, about 45 miles south of Nashville.
Speaking on ABC News’ Good Morning America program on Friday morning from Tennessee, Elizabeth’s sister, identified as Kat Bozeman, said she did not believe Elizabeth had gone willingly with Cummins.
When her father, Anthony Thomas, was asked directly during the interview whether he thought Elizabeth had been “brainwashed” by Cummins, he said, “Yes.”
He said the family planned to offer Elizabeth therapy, and understood that she would need time to recover.
Cummins, whose wife filed for divorce after he disappeared with Elizabeth, has been fired from his teaching job.
He was apprehended on a fugitive warrant charging him with aggravated kidnapping and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.
Writing and additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Andrew Hay