Family says that kidnapped teenager is acting withdrawn, jittery
The Tennessee teenager who was kidnapped by her teacher is now safely home with her family but acting withdrawn, her relatives said on Monday.
"She didn't look like herself at all. She looked like she was very worn out, very thin. And very jittery," Elizabeth Thomas' father Anthony Thomas said on "Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield" on HLN.
"She's somebody who's actually more sure of herself, usually all smiles and she's been sort of the life of the party."
Kat Bozeman, Elizabeth's older sister, opened up on the program about the 15-year-old's recovery.
Bozeman said that the teenager is apprehensive about being around people, and family members have kept conversation light as she recovers from the 39-day ordeal.
Elizabeth's former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, was arrested on Thursday in California after a tipster led police to the spot.
Anthony Thomas called Cummins "a very poor excuse for a teacher and authority figure, a father .... he's a poor excuse for a human being," in response to an interview with Cummins' sister defending her brother's actions.
In Cummins' sister's interview with NBC's "Today" show, she said her brother said Elizabeth wanted to run away and he didn't want her to go alone, so he went with her to ensure that she stayed safe.
In an earlier interview CNN, Elizabeth's sister-in-law, Danielle Thomas, said Elizabeth may have thought she and Cummins were leaving for one day and did not expect to be gone for more than a month or traveling more than 2,000 miles away.
"Number one, she didn't pack that many clothes," Danielle Thomas said in the interview. "Number two, she left her dog behind. And number three ... she is very active in her youngest sister Rebecca's life ... So, in my heart, I don't think she would have left Rebecca for a very long time."
Danielle Thomas said the family immediately assumed Elizabeth ran away, but then realized the truth when Cummins' wife called to say he was also missing.
"Immediately you get ticked off because some perverted old man has absconded with a member of your family," she said. "And then, there were times when we were upset at both, and then just at him. And then we were emotional."
Family members said Elizabeth, one of 10 children, is recuperating at an undisclosed location, where she will undergo counseling then return to normalcy.
Bozeman said the family is trying hard to keep everything "light" so she can heal.
Anthony Thomas said there's a noticeable difference in his daughter's face.
"She is the only extrovert in an introvert family and she's very withdrawn," Bozeman said.
Danielle Thomas insisted that Elizabeth was still the same playful teenager she once was, but when the interviewer asked if she is OK, Danielle Thomas said no.
"There are times where you think she's OK and there are times where she's curled up in the middle of the floor crying and shaking and having panic attacks," Danielle Thomas said.
Anthony Thomas said he has not thought about the possibility that his daughter will have to face her alleged abductor in court.
"We've gone through probably the worst experience of my life so far was having her gone, not knowing where she was or how she was," he said. "There's a lot still to go through."