Black Bear Ranch: Details on commune where Cummins, Thomas stayed

Black Bear Ranch, AMBER Alert Elizabeth Thomas Tad Cummins_402482

CECILVILLE, Calif. (WKRN) – Tad Cummins, the former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, was arrested April 20, 2017 at a rural cabin in Cecilville, California, after 38 days on the run.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said a tip in the AMBER Alert case came in late Wednesday night on April 19, and authorities in Siskiyou County, where Cecilville is located, arrested Cummins the next morning and safely rescued Thomas.

While the TBI originally said they were found at a commune, the bureau later said it was just a rural cabin.

However, according to News 2’s ABC-affiliate KDRV-TV, the pair had stayed at the Black Bear Ranch commune in Cecilville for at least two days while in Cecilville.

KDRV reports Cummins and Thomas were going by different names and a member of Black Bear asked them to leave. The reason why wasn’t immediately known.

According to their website, Black Bear Ranch was founded in 1968 by people who wanted to “get back to the land, get out of the city, and start a new life together in the mountains.”

The commune outlines “traditional guidelines” they say must be followed by anyone who stays or visits the ranch for longer than one week.

It appears to operate through “Circles,” or meetings, where group decisions are made. Residents are required to have a Circle at least once a week to raise any concerns, money issues, resolve conflicts, share ideas, or “just to check in and see how we feel.”

Each member is required to put in work help maintaining the existence of the commune for at least 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. Everyone is also required to give $3 a day to the ranch at a minimum, which goes into the “Ranch fund.” The use of those funds is then discussed in the weekly Circles.Click here to read more of the Black Bear Ranch’s guidelines.Click here for complete coverage of the AMBER Alert for Elizabeth Thomas.

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