— Six years ago, a then-15-year-old student named Destany had a close friendship with her teacher Tad, who even sang a love song to her once. Destany revealed that other students made jokes about her being in love with Tad. Destany ended up moving away before the relationship could escalate.
— Like Destany, Elizabeth was an abuse victim seeking a friend. The Thomas family attorney called Elizabeth “the perfect victim” for Tad.
— Elizabeth denied that she and Tad ever kissed at school after a student reported seeing it in January. Tad convinced his wife Jill that it never happened. Jill says she believed him because he’d never given her any reason to believe he was ever unfaithful.
— After getting suspended from his job, Tad started acting strangely around Jill as he began to prepare for his escape with Elizabeth. The day he left, he told Jill he had a job interview and “borrowed” her Nissan Rogue.
— That same morning, Elizabeth’s sister Sarah said Elizabeth was agitated and told her, “If I’m not back by 6, call the cops.”
— Search engine results on Tad’s computer revealed inquiries about how to get away with marrying a teen bride.
— Tad made a slip-up when he checked into an Oklahoma City hotel with Elizabeth and used his real name and ID before asking for directions to Walmart. That’s how investigators knew to pull the security footage from that store, revealing a key piece of video that they used to inform that public that Tad and Elizabeth had changed their appearances.
— Tad was originally planning to cross the border into Mexico and go further south, crossing from San Diego into Mexico across international waters via a two-man kayak. Investigators think his final destination may have been Panama, where Tad had done missions work.
— After deciding to not make the crossing, Tad and Elizabeth traveled to Berkeley, Calif. where they learned about the off-the-grid Black Bear Ranch hippie commune further north.
— At Black Bear Ranch, Tad’s “terrible behavior” and unwillingness to work got him and Elizabeth kicked out of the commune after a week and a half.
— Furious, Tad left the commune and hid in a nearby cabin where authorities soon caught up with them.
— Elizabeth’s family believes her school did not do enough to deal with the predatory actions of their own teacher. Elizabeth’s dad Anthony claims he did not hear about the report of the kissing incident at the school until a week later.
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