Search For Haleigh 'Will Expand As Far As It Needs To Go'
Mounted Search-And-Rescue To Assist Efforts
SATSUMA, Fla. – As family members of a missing 5-year-old Putnam County girl pleaded for help on national television and law enforcement officials followed leads and interviewed everyone connected to the kindergartner, new resources joined the search on Thursday.
After 54 hours of intense searching and investigation, investigators said they still don't know what happened to Haleigh Cummings.
"We'll expand our investigation as far as it needs to go," Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said Thursday morning. "As far as whether or not Haleigh is still in the area, that is an unknown."
Haleigh was last seen at 10 p.m. Monday in her father's mobile home in Satsuma, where she went to sleep in a bedroom with her 3-year-old brother and her father's 17-year-old girlfriend.
On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Haleigh's father, Ronald Cummings, made pleas for the safe return of his little girl on CNN, NBC and other national news outlets.
"I'd like to say if anybody's watching and they've seen the picture of my daughter and they've seen her anywhere, please get in contact with local law enforcement officer or Crimestoppers," Cummings told Channel 4. "I know what happened to my daughter. She came up missing out of my house in the middle of the night. Besides that, no I don't know."
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said they must assume Haleigh was abducted because house-to-house searches of the neighborhood Wednesday found no evidence that she wandered away.
Ronald Cummings' girlfriend, Misty Croslin, said she woke up at 3 a.m. Tuesday and discovered the child missing and the back door of the home propped open with a concrete block. The father came home from work a few minutes later and both placed frantic calls to 911.
Cummings, Croslin and other family members and acquaintances were interviewed and offered lie-detector tests. Hardy would not confirm who had taken polygraph tests or discuss the results.
"Everybody, including the family -- and I want that for the record -- has been extremely cooperative with us," Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said.
The third morning after an Amber Alert was issued for Haleigh, Hardy said a renewed ground search would begin Thursday of the five miles surrounding the Cummings' home. Low cloud ceiling in the morning prevented helicopters from being used, but boats and divers were still in the St. Johns River, which is only about 1,000 yards from the mobile home park.
Texas Equusearch, a mounted search-and-rescue group which helped search for missing Orlando toddler Caylee Anthony last fall, was to arrive in Satsuma on Thursday.
"A fresh set of eyes and they'll be able to cover some of the terrain that's very difficult to get to and they'll be able to get to it by horseback," Hardy said.
Celebrity bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, who was involved in the Anthony case, has offered a $25,000 reward if Haleigh is returned before midnight Saturday.
The missing girl's loved ones have stayed in a tent yards away from Cumming's double-wide mobile home for most of the past two days as they leaned on each other for support.
While Cummings and Haleigh's mother are divorced and their relationship was described as rocky, mother Crystal Sheffield said "We get along."
"I don't know where she is or who has her. I just want her home," said Sheffield.
Haleigh's grandmother, Marie Griffiths, said the little girl would never willingly go with a stranger, but she still has hope the 5-year-old is alive.
"Haleigh is living and breathing. I don't feel that there's anything that has happened to her bad," Griffiths said.
Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said early Thursday that searches for Haleigh by air, ground and water would continue through the day. In addition to dozens of deputies and officers from surrounding counties, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI were also involved in the case.
Authorities ask anyone with any information to call the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 386-329-0800 or the FDLE's Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse at 888-FL-MISSING.
- February 12, 2009: 48 Hours Pass With No Sign Of Missing Girl
- February 11, 2009: School Prays For Haleigh's Safe Return
- February 11, 2009: Detective: Haleigh's Disappearance Considered Abduction
- February 10, 2009: Family, Friends Pray As Search For Missing 5-Year-Old Continues
- February 10, 2009: 5-Year-Old Vanishes From Bedroom; Father Says She Was 'Stolen'
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