Elizabeth Thomas to be reunited with family in TN

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — Elizabeth Thomas, the teen at the center of an Amber Alert that drew nationwide attention, is back home in Tennessee.

Officials from the FBI, the TBI and the Maury County Sheriff’s Office flew the 15-year-old back to Tennessee on a private airplane sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Jason Whatley, the attorney representing Elizabeth Thomas’ family, said the teen underwent a medical interview and a forensics interview before getting on the plane.

The teen and her family are expected to stay secluded for the next several days.

“We have mental health people that are engaged actively in this case that are going to be working with her for her best interest. We’re following their recommendations completely,” Whatley said.

Thomas was found in Siskiyou County, CA, with her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, on Thursday morning.

“This was difficult under any circumstances, but knowing that our citizens not just in Maury County and in Tennessee, southern Middle Tennessee, but across the country. Here in California and Siskiyou County, CA, a state I’ve never even been to, you had concerned citizens who did the right thing, and so there are so many good people in this country,” Whatley said.

Whatley credited law enforcement, the media and regular people who were looking and praying for the teen for playing significant roles in her rescue.

“This case could have ended very differently, and so I just want you to know the family, from the bottom of their heart, from the bottom of our heart as their representatives, recognizes that Elizabeth is safe because of the help and the prayers and the concern of all the persons I’ve mentioned,” he said.

Cummins is being held at the Siskiyou County Jail without bond. He is awaiting extradition to Tennessee, where he will be charged with sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping. He is facing an additional federal charge and more charges in California.

Channel 4 spoke with Elizabeth Thomas’ father, Anthony Thomas, as he stopped by his attorney’s office in Columbia shortly after learning she had been found safe. Click here to watch the full interview.

Anthony Thomas said it’s important to figure out what state of mind his daughter is in and said he will likely need to get her help. He said he can hardly wait to see her and tell her he loves her.

Elizabeth Thomas’ sister, Kat Thomas, shared a message.

“We love you, and we can’t wait to see you, and it’s amazing, we have so many words, we are so excited,” she said. “We just want Mary Catherine home. That’s all we care about.”

The teen’s mother, Kimberly Thomas, was arrested last year and charged with child abuse and neglect.

Elizabeth Thomas has nine siblings. Her younger siblings are being raised by their father after their mother’s arrest. One of her sisters, Brandy, said their mother does not want to speak publicly right now but said she is taking time to “be in prayer” for her daughter. She said they can all finally sleep again.

The family plans to address the media after they are reunited with Elizabeth Thomas.