Deputies from four counties and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were searching the St. Johns River south of Satsuma Tuesday, and authorities confirmed the search is connected to the Haleigh Cummings investigation.
Putnam County Sheriff's Office Lt. Johnny Greenwood said the search was prompted by one of over 5,000 leads received by the Putnam County Sheriff's Office since the then-5-year-old girl disappeared from her bed in her father's mobile home 14 months ago.
The sheriff's office was not releasing the exact location of the search effort in an attempt to prevent congestion from onlookers. Channel 4's Tarik Minor said the search of an area less than 5 miles south of where Haleigh disappeared in February 2008 was prompted by a "credible tip."
"Although various resources are being utilized to conduct this search, it is just one of many operations conducted during this investigation," Greenwood said in a media release Tuesday morning. "Due to the sensitivity of this investigation, the name of the person providing the tip and the physical evidence alleged to be in this area, will not be released."
Minor called the search effort "massive," and included deputies from Putnam, Clay and Marion counties, as well as the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. He said cadaver dogs were also brought to the scene.
Since Haleigh lived not far from the river, boats and divers were used in the search for Haleigh in the first days after she disappeared. Last September, a Putnam County pond was drained and searched following a tip, but deputies said nothing of significance to the investigation was found.
Haleigh's father, Ronald Cummings, and former stepmother, Misty, remain in jail facing drug trafficking charges that authorities say are unrelated to Haleigh's disappearance.
Jail records show Tuesday that Misty Cummings was being moved from the St. Johns County Jail to the Putnam County Jail.
Channel 4 was told that Haleigh's mother, Crystal Sheffield, was told about Tuesday's search so she would not learn about it through media reports.
Anyone with information on Haleigh's disappearance or whereabouts is asked to contact the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 386-329-0808 or Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.
This story will be updated throughout the afternoon as more details become available, with live reports from the scene on the local station beginning at 5 p.m.