The father of the Tennessee teenager whom authorities believe was abducted by her teacher spoke out in an interview with ABC News, pleading with her, "please let us know you are all right and please come home to us."
"I don't think she is responsible for what has happened, she is 15 years old, she is not responsible for this happening," Anthony Thomas, the father of Elizabeth Thomas, said.
Tennessee authorities are asking for the public's help in their hunt for Elizabeth's former teacher, Tad Cummins, 50, who is accused of kidnapping Elizabeth last Monday, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. Neither Elizabeth nor Cummins has been in touch with their families, authorities said. Cummins is believed to be armed and authorities say the teen is "in imminent danger."
Cummins is also accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Elizabeth while he was a teacher at her Culleoka, Tennessee, school. Cummins has denied the claim, but nearly two months before Elizabeth and her former teacher went missing, one of Elizabeth's schoolmates reported seeing the pair kissing in Cummins classroom, according to a Jan. 30 school district investigative report.
Thomas told ABC News that he warned his daughter to stay away from Cummins, whom he had heard her talk about at home.
"She was very enthusiastic about his class," Thomas said, "and I heard his name an awful lot."
"When I heard about the situation," he said, "I told her, 'You can't have any contact with him at all.'"
"'You can't call him, you can't talk to him, you can't wave at him if you even see him,'" the father said, "I'm not sure she really understood it, she seemed to think that nothing was a big deal with it, and I kept telling her, whether you think it is a big deal or not, this is real, you cannot have any contact with this person.
"I am very angry. Someone who is that old should know better than to pull something like this," he added. "But he had no business being around my child at all.
"I did not see this coming at all. You send your kids to school you trust they are going to be all right there," Thomas said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that Cummins "may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the teen] ... in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her."
Authorities are asking that anyone with information call 1-800-TBI-FIND and that anyone who sees a car with a Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT call 911. A $1,000 reward is available for information leading to Cummins' arrest.
NEW PICTURES: Various shots of Ted Cummins in the past few weeks, including the vehicle he's believed to be driving. TN TAG: 976-ZPT. pic.twitter.com/mlrPPlcXoQ— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 17, 2017