“She knew that he had been accused of [the kiss] but she did not believe that it had actually occurred,” Michael Cox, the attorney for Jill Cummins, tells PEOPLE.
Jill’s husband, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, is wanted in an ongoing multi-state AMBER Alert after disappearing with 15-year-old freshman Elizabeth Thomas on March 13. Prior to their disappearance, Cummins had been suspended from his job as a health sciences teacher at Culleoka Unit School for allegedly kissing Thomas in January. After the pair went missing, Cummins was fired.
A warrant has been issued for Cummins’ arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor - the latter charge stemming from the alleged kiss.
According to Cox, Jill didn’t see any signs that her husband was involved with Thomas. And while she is sad and confused, Jill remains hopeful of Thomas’ safe return even though authorities believe she is being kept “off the grid” by Cummins.
“[She’s] still trying to get a grasp on the situation on how the person [she thought she] knew could have done this,” Cox says.
Cox adds that Jill “wants this thing to come to an end, to a peaceful resolution.”
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In March, days after her husband disappeared, Jill issued a public plea for Cummins to return home, saying, “Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are. We can help you get through this,” according to local media reports.
In late March, she again begged him to come home, telling NBC News. “You know you can’t hide forever. For your sake and for Beth’s sake, please go to the police or just drop Beth off somewhere safe.”
Cox says that Jill’s “emotions are still raw and it’s a hard thing to talk about for her,” adding, “Even though it’s been a month, [she and her family are] still trying to get used to [this].”
As more information is released on the alleged relationship between Cummins and Thomas, Cox says his client is not focusing on the negative comments accusing her of turning a blind eye.
Last week, Thomas’ father, Anthony Thomas, filed a court petition allowing his lawyer to take depositions of people who allegedly were privy to the teen’s relationship with her teacher but who have been hesitant “to fully cooperate in sharing information,” according to a family statement obtained by PEOPLE.
The petition details the family’s allegations that Cummins groomed Thomas before the abduction. It claims, “Cummins preyed upon the child for months on end, nudging and molding her until her will to resist was conflicted and ultimately broken.”
In the images, both appeared to have dyed their hair darker. Cox says when Jill Cummins heard of the photos, she hoped they would help investigators locate the pair.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation asks anyone who believes they spot Cummins or Thomas to not approach them and instead keep an eye on them while calling 911.
Cummins was seen driving a Silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate 976ZPT, according to the TBI. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 lbs., with brown hair and eyes.
Anyone with information on Cummins or Thomas should call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.