Kidnapped US teen claims she's 'in love' with schoolteacher

Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas (TBI and Twitter)
Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas (TBI and Twitter)

A US teen who ran away with her schoolteacher is claiming she's "in love" with the man who kidnapped her for 39 days.

Elizabeth Thomas was taken from home by her 50-year-old high school teacher Tad Cummins who faces a federal child trafficking charge for grooming and kidnapping. But the 15-year-old, now in a treatment facility for trauma victims, is insisting she is a "fully grown woman" who should be allowed to date who she likes, The Daily Mail reports.

Police have said that a friend dropped Elizabeth off at a Shoney's in the area around 7:45am. Cummins was seen near the restaurant around 8am.

Elizabeth and Cummins went on the run in a Nissan Rogue, which the teacher had borrowed from his wife that morning.

Her disappearance sparked a nationwide manhunt and Amber Alerts in several states before they were finally tracked down.

Elizabeth has told friends she had the "time of her life" during their five weeks on the run.

"Elizabeth says she's in love with Tad and that the pair of them haven't done anything wrong," a source said "She thinks she is a fully grown woman who can date who she likes."

"She says she had the time of her life [while on the run] which is obviously pretty tough for the family to hear."

According to local news outlet WKRN, Cummins appeared in court in Tennessee on Monday for a brief hearing during which he acknowledged the charges against him: transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of criminal sexual intercourse. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.