SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. — After 39 days on the run, Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas ended up in Northern California, where they apparently tried to get into a commune near Cecilville, according to the man who said he tipped police off to their presence. Griffin Barry told CNN affiliate KRCR-TV that Cummins said he was 44 and that his “wife” was 22.
“The first time he was like, ‘We’re from Colorado. We had a house fire and lost everything.’ He said he used to be a raft outfitter, or something like that,” Barry told CNN.
He told Barry he was down to his last $10.
“And I was like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve had my own struggles. So (I’ll) try to help you out,'” Barry said.
He said he offered Cummins work — moving rocks — and a place to stay: a small cabin for which Barry was the caretaker. But he said he eventually became suspicious, noting that Cummins was driving a Nissan Rogue without any license plates and that his female companion spoke little, he told KRCR.
Researching the pair, Barry saw Cummins’ picture online in an urgent Amber Alert. He called police Wednesday night, KRCR reported, and authorities asked the caretaker to help them capture the teacher.
On Thursday morning, Barry asked Cummins to come outside and help him build a rock wall on the property. When Cummins left the cabin, investigators were there to arrest him, the cabin’s owner, Monk O’Hare, told CNN. Elizabeth was right behind him, and she was taken into federal custody.
The girl alternated between being “stoic” and “emotional” — understandable, given the circumstances. Siskiyou County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Gilley said.
“It was a very traumatic experience for her. Her mood was very alternating,” Gilley said. “The two obviously have a relationship. … Her response to us and to law enforcement escalated up and down.”
According to WVLT, Tad Cummins’ former co-worker Chandler Anderson had offered a $10,000 reward to the person who could bring Elizabeth home safe, and now he’s getting ready to write the check.
He said he wants to fly Barry to Tennessee so he and the town could personally thank him.
“What he did was brave,” Anderson told WVLT. “Tad was armed and dangerous, and he befriended Tad to find out information and notified law enforcement.”
He said if Barry turns down the money, he’ll give it to Elizabeth’s dad.