Several Groups Offer Help In Search For Haleigh
SATSUMA, Fla. – As word of Haleigh Cummings' disappearance garners national attention, several men who have been in similar situations as the 5-year-old's father have come forward to help with the search and lend their support.
Texas Equusearch, a mounted search-and-rescue group that helped search for missing Orlando toddler Caylee Anthony last fall, had about nine people in Satsuma on Thursday. The group said it has access to about 200 volunteers in the Orlando area.
Texas Equusearch is known for using different resources, such as horses and three different types of sonar technology, in searches.
"I've been in the same shoes as this family when my own daughter disappeared. Unfortunately, 17 months later, her body was found. I made a promise to God that I'd never leave another family alone," said Tim Miller of Texas Equusearch.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office asked for the group's help, hoping the new sets of eyes will help lead them to Haleigh.
"A fresh set of eyes, and they'll be able to cover some of the terrain that is very difficult to get to. They'll be able to do it by horseback," said Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy.
Volunteers with Texas Equusearch have worked on more than 1,000 cases, including the search for Natalie Halloway and Caylee.
"We just didn't think we'd be back in Florida this close to where Caylee disappeared in this short period of time. It brings back some painful memories," Miller said.
Although Haleigh hasn't been seen for three days, Miller said he is hopeful for her safe return.
"It's warm and it's in Florida. A 5-year-old, if she wandered away, would be able to probably survive out there," Miller said.
The volunteers with Texas Equusearch said they understand that this is a critical time in the search for Haleigh and they were working on Thursday to determine exactly where to search and how much manpower, horses and ATVs they might need. They said their most recent successful search was last week, when they found a missing 2-year-old child.
Also in Satsuma on Thursday was Caylee's grandfather, George Anthony, who was at the Putnam County command post to meet with Ronald Cummings, his family and friends, and offer any support the family needs.
"They need the community's support. They do not need to be judged. They do not need to be scrutinized," Anthony said. "They need your help. (The) community needs to come together to help this family to bring this beautiful little girl home."
Earlier in the week, Joshua Duckett and his family stopped in Putnam County to offer support. Duckett's son, Trenton, disappeared more than two years ago and has not been found.
The father said he and his family were in Orlando for the memorial service for Caylee, and as they were on their way home they heard of Haleigh's disappearance and stopped by the Cummings' home.
"I know exactly what they're going through, and by coming over here I'm able to offer a helping hand and say, 'Hey, I'm going what you're going through and I know what it feels like and what to expect. Here's a shoulder to lean on if you need it. I'm here and will to do whatever it takes to find this little girl,'" Duckett said.
Celebrity bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, who was also involved in the Anthony case, has offered a $25,000 reward if Haleigh is returned before midnight Saturday. Also, a $5,000 reward for information leading to Haleigh's return is being offered by the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation out of California.
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.
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