Thursday's news in 5 minutes.

1. Teenage girl who was allegedly kidnapped by her 50-year-old teacher is “in love”.

A 15-year-old schoolgirl who went missing with her 50-year-old schoolteacher for 39 days has allegedly made a stunning admission to friends.

Elizabeth Thomas was at the centre of a nationwide search when she disappeared from her hometown in Tennessee with father-of-two Tad Cummins.

The teen and the married grandfather were eventually located at a remote cabin in northern California on April 20.


Despite the fact Cummins is now facing a federal child trafficking charge for grooming and kidnapping the teen, her friends say Elizabeth feels he didn’t do anything wrong.

“Elizabeth says she’s in love with Tad,” a friend told the Daily Mail.

“She thinks she is a fully grown woman who can date who she likes. As far as she’s concerned it was all one big, fun road trip. She says she had the time of her life which is obviously pretty tough for the family to hear.”

Her friends also said that Elizabeth is currently seeking treatment at a centre for trauma victims instead of returning to her family home, adding that her “mental scars” will no doubt takes years to heal.

The latest claim is in stark contrast to the statement her distressed family members gave the media when Elizabeth first went missing.

“She confided in one of her siblings that if she was not back by 6pm that day and she was to disappear, to call the police,” attorney Jason Whatley told People Magazine at the time.

Before their disappearance, Cummins left a note for his 49-year-old wife, explaining he was “travelling to Virginia Beach…to clear his mind”. Instead, he met Elizabeth at a restaurant, where she hopped into his car before they both disappeared.

Cummins has since been extradited to Tennessee, where he faces up to 12 years jail for aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.


He also faces a federal charge of transportation go a minor across state lines with intent of having criminal sexual intercourse. The charge carries a minimum 10-year sentence.

In a statement, the lawyer representing Thomas and her family has said that any suggestion Elizabeth willingly left with her teacher is “amazingly absurd”.

“This is classic grooming and manipulation,” Jason Whatley said, according to People Magazine.

“And I predict this case will be studied years in the future about how authority figures like Tad Cummins can mess up young children who believe their lies and are manipulated into doing things they would never do.”

2. Melbourne family robbed by gang of teens as their 5-year-old slept in the next room.


A Melbourne family has revealed the horrifying moment a gang of armed teenagers broke into their home, threatening a mother and father while their five-year-old daughter slept nearby.

Speaking to 7 News about the horrific ordeal, the couple – who chose to hide their faces – said they were awoken by five Sudanese teenagers armed with wooden stakes standing over their bed.

“When I woke up one of them was there turning the light on there was already one next to me, one was standing right here,” the father said, showing the cameras around the bedroom.

The mother said the ordeal was “terrifying”.

“They kept banging the sticks on the bed too so they were just making a lot of noise and it was just really scary,” she said.

The pair say that as one teen tried to approach the bedroom where their young girl was sleeping, another said, “Leave her alone, she’s only a kid.”

The teens then fled the scene in the family’s car. Police were able to arrest three teenagers when the car crashed after a police pursuit. Another three fled the scene.

3. “We love you, Eric.” Family’s desperate plea for missing Brisbane teenager.


The search for a teenage boy missing since Monday is set to resume at first light on Thursday, as his family plead for him to come home, AAP reports.

Emergency workers on Wednesday scoured bushland near where Eric, 16, was last seen in Brisbane’s northwest on Monday afternoon.

He was last spotted in Highvale wearing a white T-shirt, khaki cargo pants and carrying a camouflage backpack.

“Contact us, please. Me, your mum, your baby brother and your baby sister we’re missing you,” his father, Darryl, said on Wednesday.


“We love you, Eric, and we just hope you come back safe.”

Daryl said the family had lived in the area for four years and often went camping and bushwalking.

Eric is believed to have turned off his mobile phone on Monday afternoon.

He has not made contact with friends or family since he was last seen.

Police and SES volunteers have so far concentrated their search on bushland in Highvale, Samford, Mount Glorious and Mount Nebo. The teen’s family says his disappearance is out of character.

4. Aussie soldier killed in training exercise, the second in just one week.


An Australian soldier has died during a training exercise in the Northern Territory less than a week after a 21-year-old was killed during army training in Queensland.

The incident happened at the Mount Bundey Training Area near Darwin on Wednesday afternoon.

The Army member was treated at the scene but later died at Royal Darwin Hospital.

It comes less than a week after a 21-year-old Australian soldier was killed by a falling tree branch during a training exercise near Rockhampton.

“The Army and ADF community extends its deepest sympathies to the soldier’s family and friends,” Defence said in a statement.

“It is a deep shock to the organisation and will be felt by the broader Army family.”

The Army has now suspended training activities across its combat brigades to review risk assessment processes and training safety management.

Defence says it won’t be releasing any personal information regarding the soldier, as NT police investigate the incident.

Labor also extended its sympathies to the soldier’s family and friends.


“On behalf of the Labor opposition, we extend our deepest sympathies to the soldier’s family and friends,” shadow defence minister Richard Marles and shadow defence personnel minister Amanda Rishworth said in a statement.

“The men and women of our Defence Forces do an extraordinary job on behalf of our nation.”

5. This guy’s plea for free chicken nuggets just became Twitter’s most retweeted post of all time.

A man’s call for a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets has become Twitter’s most retweeted post of all time.


Carter Wilkerson’s post asking US chain Wendy’s how many retweets he needed for a year’s supply of nuggets has now been shared on the social media site more than 3.42 million times.

The post, which read “Help me please. A man needs his nuggs”, surpassed TV star Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscars selfie from 2014 that featured a host of Hollywood stars, to reach top spot.

Mr Wilkerson, whose attempt to break the record has been backed by a host of social media stars and businesses including Microsoft and Amazon, wrote on his Twitter profile that he now wanted to reach 18 million retweets, the original target set by Wendy’s.

“We did it guys! Thanks to you’re help and support we were able to raise $100k for @DTFA and beat @TheEllenShow record! Now let’s get 18mil!”,” he wrote.

Wendy’s has now supplied him with a gift card for a year’s worth of nuggets and made a $100,000 donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a charity Mr Wilkerson supports and which finds homes for children in foster care.

“I want to give back. I am so blessed to have an opportunity to use my voice to support something I believe in,” he said.

“And really grateful to everyone who Retweeted my post. They made this happen.”

As well as breaking the retweets record, Mr Wilkerson has also gained more than 100,000 followers and had a custom emoji created in his honour alongside the hashtag #NuggsForCarter.


6. 12-year-old boy crushed to death during tug-of-war game with a car at his NT school.

A Northern Territory education provider could be hit with a $1.5 million fine after a 12-year-old boy was crushed to death during a carnival activity where children played tug-of-war with a car.

NT WorkSafe has charged the operator of Gawa Christian School following the tragic 2015 ‘Troopy pull’ accident on Elcho Island, a remote community about 530 kilometres from Darwin.


The game involved children dragging a Toyota troop carrier about 80 metres as fast as they could across a finish line with a rope, AAP reports.

An inquest found Jethro Dhamarrandji-Baker’s team was about 30m into its run when the boy fell 2m in front of the Troopy that was travelling at 5km/h.

The driver did not see the Year 7 student fall, but felt the bump under the wheel.

“(Jethro’s) friend attempted to assist him but there was no time and the front left tyre of the Troopy rolled over him,” Coroner Greg Cavanagh said in his September findings.

Coroner Cavanagh slammed the now cancelled event as “manifestly dangerous”.

“It is such a tragedy that it took the death of this child for the organisation to realise it shortcomings and fully understand its duties,” he said.

Now the school’s operator, NT Christian Schools Ltd, is facing civil charges.

“It is alleged that NT Christian Schools Ltd failed to comply with their health and safety duty which resulted in the death of the student,” NT WorkSafe said.

The maximum penalty for this offence is $1,500,000 for a body corporate.

The matter is listed for mention in the Darwin Local Court on May 29.

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