The day 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and her former teacher and suspected pedophile 50-year-old Tad Cummins were found in a remote cabin in northern California, conflicting reports were released over whether or not the cabin was part of a commune, namely the well-documented Black River Ranch hippie community.
ABC News, video footage, and Google Earth have answered that question.
According to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the pair, who disappeared from Tennessee over five weeks ago, went to the famous Black River Ranch commune south of the Oregon border.
The 60s-era commune, still in operation today, has been the subject of a 2005 film called “Commune” and numerous books about these types of communities.
Related Story: Commune Tad Cummins And Elizabeth Thomas Visited Revealed
According to residents of the commune, they knew something about Tad and Elizabeth was off.
“There were all kinds of indications that there was something a little strange going on,” commented resident Peter Laughingwolf.
He said the commune turned the two away. On their website (which is currently down due to heavy internet traffic), the commune indicates that they are not an open community, visitors can’t stay more than a couple days within an invite, and becoming a long-term resident is not an easy process.
“What really was a clue that something was wrong is that he got so angry when [we told him he wouldn’t be a good fit],” added Laughingwolf.
Despite the fact that the AMBER Alert for Elizabeth had been in the news for so long, Black River Ranch members may have been unaware due to a lack of cellphone coverage and internet access in their isolated mountain wilderness.
After leaving the ranch, Tad and Elizabeth drove to the remote Cecilville Station gas station on Tuesday, about 7.5 miles south (as the crow flies) from Black Bear Ranch.
Desperate for gas, food, and money, Tad spoke with young caretaker Griffin Barry. Barry offered Tad $40 in cash. When Tad asked for a place to stay, Barry offered him a cabin on his property. The cabin had no running water or electricity.
The Cecilville Station, owned by a couple named Monkey and Allegra, has been fixed up into a fill-up station, professional-level disc golf course, and bar and offers a few lodgings. The cabin where Tad and Elizabeth stayed is tucked away in trees less than 1,000 feet behind the gas station and rural highway.
According to Barry, Tad told him their names were “John” and “Joanna” and said Elizabeth was 24.
Earlier reports indicated that Tad looked for work at a bar, likely the off-the-grid Salmon River Saloon that is part of the Cecilville Station complex. Barry then gave him work helping him move rocks out of the stream behind the cabin on Wednesday morning.
Later in the day, Barry finally realized who they were. He called 911 around 11 p.m., leading authorities to stakeout the cabin Wednesday night. It was obvious Tad was inside because his Nissan Rogue — with missing license plates — was parked nearby.
Law enforcement officers waited until morning for Tad to exit the cabin rather than risk a confrontation inside the building that could put Elizabeth in danger. Authorities were correct in assuming Tad was armed.
When Tad emerged Thursday morning, he was arrested without incident and told authorities he was relieved that the nationwide manhunt was over.
Elizabeth appeared healthy but was highly emotional.
Lt. Behr Tharsing explained, “After we placed them into protective custody, she was laughing, she was crying. She was kind of an emotional roller coaster, as you can imagine.”
Authorities greatly praised Barry for his tip and cooperation. He may be eligible for a reward.