The 50-year-old Tennessee teacher arrested for running away with his 15-year-old student reportedly said he was happy the weeks-long manhunt had finally ended.
Tad Cummins told cops “I’m glad this is over,” CNN reported, as a SWAT team collared him on Thursday in Cecilville, Calif. — 2,400 miles from his home in Culleoka, Tenn.
Cummins and former student Elizabeth Thomas had been on the run since March 13, and authorities scoured for clues as to where they were headed. It’s still unclear if Thomas willingly ran away with her ex-teacher.
Cops finally got word of their whereabouts after a Cecilville groundskeeper notified them that the pair had been staying at an unfinished cabin since earlier this week.
The caretaker, Griffin Barry, said Cummins and Elizabeth — going by John and Joanna — claimed they needed a place to stay after losing their Colorado home in a fire, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.
Barry, 29, put gas in their car, gave them $40 and let them stay in the cabin, ABC News reported.
“The girl wasn’t really looking at me or anything and he was always dominating the conversation,” Barry told “Good Morning America” Friday. “ That kind of clues people in.”
The runaway duo had been staying at the cabin since Tuesday, and helped Barry fish rocks out of a nearby river on Friday, the Record Searchlight reported.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office found rocks with the names of locations the pair had visited in Cummins’ Nissan Rogue, the newspaper reported.
He finally alerted the police that the couple was staying at the cabin after recognizing them from Amber alert fliers.
A SWAT team arrested Cummins Thursday as he exited the cabin to help Barry.
A sheriff’s official at the scene told “Good Morning America” that Elizabeth’s state of mind varied at the scene.
“She was laughing, she was crying,” he said. “She was kind of an emotional roller coaster as you can imagine.”
Cummins is due in court Friday, and faces state and federal charges.
Elizabeth will be brought back to her home in Culleoka, Tenn. to be reunited with her family.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigations spokesman Josh DeVine told NBC News’ “Today” Friday morning that Elizabeth appears to be in a healthy physical state.
Officials were examining her overall status, however, before she was brought home.
“We’re going to be talking with her,” he said. “We want to know exactly what the set of events looked like.”