Teacher who kidnapped student in Tennessee is in custody in California

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COLUMBIA, Tenn. (CNN) - A teacher from Tennessee who kidnapped and fled with his 15-year-old student was arrested in California on Thursday after five weeks on the run.

The student, Elizabeth Thomas, is safe, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tweeted Thursday. The girl had not been able to speak with her family, as of early Thursday afternoon, because she is in "too remote" of a location to do so, said Jason Whatley, an attorney for the Thomas family.

"There aren't words in the English language to describe the level of relief and elation experienced by the Thomas family," Whatley said. "Now begins another hard chapter, but for now, we celebrate."

Tad Cummins, 50, fled with Elizabeth from their small town of Culleoka, Tenn., on March 13. They disappeared a few weeks after a student reported seeing Cummins and Elizabeth kissing in a classroom.

Law enforcement agencies released surveillance video from March 15 that showed the pair at a Walmart store in Oklahoma City. The trail then went cold.

The break came when a vehicle belonging to Cummins was found in Siskiyou County, Calif., the county's sheriff's office said. Officers identified it using its vehicle identification number.

Siskiyou County is more than 2,000 miles from Culleoka, Tenn.

Cummins faces charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last month.

Cummins' estranged wife, Jill Cummins, was "very emotional" when she learned both were found safely, her attorney Michael Cox said.

"She is excited that they were found and nobody was hurt," Cox said. "She has not spoken to Tad."

Cummins filed for divorce after her husband disappeared. She said she felt betrayed by her husband. She had no idea why her husband went to northern California, her attorney said.

"This is not somewhere they had frequently visited," Cox said. "I'm not aware that they had ever been there."