NASHVILLE, Tennessee - Missing Columbia teen Elizabeth Thomas was found in Northern California with her alleged kidnapper, 50-year-old Tad Cummins.
The pair had been missing for more than a month after they disappeared from a Shoney's restaurant in Columbia.
Even though much is known about the pair and the case itself, many rumors have grown over the past month, blurring the line between facts and gossip.
- Rumor 1: Elizabeth is pregnant.
Fact: Law enforcement officials have never said or alluded to the fact that the 15-year-old may be pregnant.
They have only implied the pair had sexual relations by charging Cummins with sexual contact with a minor and a federal charge of transporting a minor across state lines to have sexual intercourse.
- Rumor 2: Elizabeth ran away from home.
Fact: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Thomas appeared to go willingly, but also said Cummins was “abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the] vulnerable young girl” to lure and potentially sexually exploit her. Officials have even used the term "brainwashed," to remind people of the control Cummins allegedly had over her.
A report filed by her father also explained that she had told her friends she was “scared” of Cummins and felt that she was “in over her head.” The report went on to say Cummins even threatened her with "repercussions" at school in order for her to go out with him.
- Rumor 3: Cummins raped Elizabeth.
Fact: It's unclear exactly what kind of sexual contact took place between the pair, but Cummins has not been charged with rape.
Cummins is facing three charges: aggravated kidnapping, sexual contact with a minor, and transporting a minor across state lines to have sexual intercourse.
- Rumor 4: Elizabeth and Tad were found in a commune.
Fact: In the early stages of their discovery, officials released that the pair was found in a commune in Northern California. However, TBI Director Mark Gwyn clarified it was a cabin in a rural area instead.
- Rumor 5: Tad and Elizabeth were going to Mexico to become missionaries.
Fact: Investigators were looking into the possibility they were crossing the border. However, it was never proven if the pair tried to do so. It remains unclear where exactly the pair traveled or why they ended up in California.