The parents of the kidnapped Tennessee teen are getting divorced, as allegations of child abuse loom for the mother
The parents of kidnapped Tennessee teen Elizabeth Thomas, 15, are getting a divorce, Thomas' father says, as speculation swirls that abuse of their daughter by his wife of 30 years made his daughter vulnerable to being manipulated by Tad Cummins, 50.
Cummins, who faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor in the state of Tennessee, a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with intent of having criminal sexual intercourse and additional charges in the state of California, was finally tracked down in a remote area of California near the border with Oregon.
Now members of Cummins' and his victim's families are working through the aftermath.
According to WKRN, on the day Cummins appeared court in California, Anthony Thomas, 49, filed for a restraining order against his wife Kimberly Thomas, 48, which was granted by a judge.
He also filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct.
Anthony and Kimberly Thomas had 10 children together in 30 years of marriage, and although they had already been separated since 2015, with the father in full custody of the children, he alleges that his wife took "numerous actions to 'toe the line' of [an order not to contact the minor children or himself], including driving by the children's residence, school, and friends' houses [when one or more of the children were present]."
Kimberly Thomas has also been barred from discussing those family members with the press.
Court documents say Kimberly Thomas beat Elizabeth and four of her siblings, and that Elizabeth told authorities her mother "banged her head into the agitator of the washing machine" and "threw her down the basement stairs and locked her down there."
The mother was also accused of making her kids get naked in front of several other people.
District Attorney Brent Cooper said this history of abuse made Thomas a target for the likes of Tad Cummins.
The mother, known to be accused of child abuse, was actually interviewed by WTVF on a front porch back in March.
"I can't eat. I can't sleep. I'm scared to death," she said at the time. On the charges against her, she said, "I'm not guilty of those."
But now Elizabeth Thomas' father is speaking out about the toll this ordeal has taken on his daughter.
"What we want to see when we look at her is the child we knew," he told ABC News. "She may not be exactly [...] the person she was, because there's a lot of experiences she's had."
"She has lost a lot of weight," he said, adding that the family is trying to "keep things positive."
"I go in there and tell her how much I missed her, how much I love her and how much her dog missed her," the father said. "I'm not allowed to ask her about things that happened along the way right now."
Anthony Thomas says that right now his daughter needs a lot of help and support.
"She used to really believe in herself. She had this confidence. She was always a leader. She was very outspoken," he said. "I think she has the determination to really go somewhere in life. But right now, she really needs a lot of help."
Elizabeth Thomas' sister-in-law, Danielle Thomas, told the Tennessean that the teen is suffering panic attacks.
"There are times where she's curled up in the middle of the floor crying and shaking and having panic attacks," she said.
While family says Elizabeth Thomas is safe and physically healthy, their main concern right now is her mental well-being.
"The outpouring of love and support from the public for Elizabeth Thomas has been overwhelming," Attorney S. Jason Whatley said in a statement Tuesday on the family's behalf. "It is time to focus on Elizabeth and her recovery, which could easily take an extended period of time."