TBI director Mark Gwyn said at a press conference Thursday he couldn't be happier to tell everyone Thomas is on her way home and Cummins potentially faces "a set of charges to keep him behind bars for many years".
After the capture, Cummins was charged with one federal count of transportations of a minor across state lines for the goal of criminal sexual intercourse, said Jack Smith, acting USA attorney for Middle District of Tennessee.
Acting US Attorney Jack Smith said that if convicted of the federal charge, he faces at least 10 years in prison.
Authorities declined to answer a question on whether the girl went willingly, saying it didn't matter. The married teacher took out a $4,500 loan and filled his auto with gas before vanishing with the 15-year-old.
"As we have said from the start, it only takes one tip", Gwyn said.
Cummins' vehicle was recovered on Wednesday night in Siskiyou County, about three hours northwest of Redding, California, near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office.
The remote, mountainous area has limited mobile phone service and the terrain is hard to traverse. Snow was still on the ground in some places.
The tipster, who said he had rented out the cabin to Cummins and Elizabeth, said in an interview with Today that they said they were from Colorado and that Cummis had claimed that Thomas was 24 and he was in his 30s.
Cummins is accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Thomas, 15, on March 13 in Columbia, Tennessee.
Thomas, who was found safe, vanished with Cummins, 50, more than one month ago.
"The father told deputies he was concerned his daughter might be with Cummins", the officer wrote in court records.
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But the girl has not been able to speak with her family yet because she is in "too remote" of a location to do so, Thomas family attorney Jason Whatley said.
Cummins' estranged wife, Jill Cummins, was "very emotional" when she learned both were found safe, her attorney, Michael Cox, said.
The Maury County Public Schools Facebook post comes in the wake of complaints from the girl's family that the school system did not respond properly after a student at the Culleoka Unit School reported seeing teacher Tad Cummins kissing the 15-year-old student. The teacher, however, acknowledged that the girl was "a really good friend and she does leave her other classes to come see him when she needs someone to calm her down", according to a school report dated January 30.
The girl's father, Anthony Thomas, had told NBC News that he believed Cummins was grooming the children in his class - telling them lies including that he had previously worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency. The report also recommended that the administration monitor Cummins' classroom to make sure students weren't there when they weren't supposed to be.
Cummins was sacked by the school the day after he and Thomas disappeared. He was suspended for his interactions at school with the student.
The TBI will hold a news conference at 3 p.m.
"The database showed that Cummins had stayed at a Super 8 location in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma located at 3852 S. Prospect on March 15, 2017 and March 16, 2017", according to the affidavit. The images showed Cummins had altered his hair to appear darker and the girl's hair may have changed to red.
She later announced that she had filed for divorce on March 31.
On the morning the pair went missing, the affidavit says Cummins lied to his wife, telling her he had a job interview and needed to borrow her auto, the 2015 Nissan Rogue.
Rep. Sheila Butt, a Republican state lawmaker who represents Columbia, said Thursday was a great day for her community. The couple has two children together.