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Missing Tenn. teen's father: I think my daughter was brainwashed

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/21/2017 Natalie Neysa Alund
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Video by People Magazine

NASHVILLE — The father of a Tennessee teenager found in northern California this week with her 50-year-old former teacher after being missing for nearly six weeks says he thinks his daughter was brainwashed.

Anthony Thomas, the father of 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas who was at the center of a more than month-long nationwide AMBER Alert, told ABC's Good Morning America on Friday that his daughter will need therapy and that her family plans to get her any help she needs.

"We're very happy that we're going to see her again," he told GMA.

Thomas added he hadn't had the opportunity to speak with his daughter yet but plans to talk with her sometime Friday.

Meanwhile, the California man who alerted law enforcement and led them to the pair told Good Morning America that several clues made him suspicious about them.

"The girl really wasn't looking at me or anything and he was kind of dominating the conversation," said Griffin Barry on Friday morning.

Barry, 29, said he called 911 after he ran into the pair at a gas station in Cecilville, Calif., and they told him they needed money for gas and food as well as a place to stay.

Barry said Tad Cummins told him they had lost everything in a fire in Colorado and needed a place to stay. Cummins told Barry, a caretaker on property that includes a gas station, that their names were John and Joanna.

Barry told ABC he put gas in their car, gave them cash and put them up in a cabin nearby.

In the interview with ABC, Barry said he didn't talk to the pair much but he noticed Cummins tried to "keep her away."

He also said Cummins did all the talking and said they had been at the Black Bear Ranch commune, but left because they didn’t like it.

"I had a photo of him that was the AMBER Alert and I was like, that’s definitely the guy, and then we saw the car as well and it matched up. Then we called the police right after that," Barry told ABC.

About 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Barry called the owner of the cabin and told him he thought the pair were Cummins and Elizabeth.

At 11 p.m., he dialed 911.

The next morning, at 9:30 a.m. the Siskiyou County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office arrested Cummins at the cabin off Eddy Gulch Road and rescued Elizabeth, according to the sheriff's office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Follow Natalie Neysa Alund on Twitter: @nataliealund


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