Reward Increased $16,000 In Haleigh Case
Dad, Mom Summoned To Sheriff's Office Wednesday
PALATKA, Fla. – Putnam County investigators separately interviewed 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings' father and mother Wednesday afternoon, but officials downplayed that as routine and said there's no break in the hunt for the girl now missing for nine days.
Ronald Cummings and Crystal Sheffield, Haleigh's parents, were each brought to the sheriff's office.
"As leads develop, we will always be going back to the family members," Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent-in-charge Dominick Pape said. "As this case goes on and we feel the need to bring them in, we will. They've been very cooperative with us."
Haleigh was reported missing just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 10 when the father's boyfriend, Misty Croslin, told authorities she woke up and found the child missing. Within minutes, Croslin and Cummings placed frantic calls to 911.
By first light that morning, a massive search was under way in the southern Putnam County community of Satsuma and an Amber Alert was issued.
For the first time Wednesday, officials confirmed that a vehicle was seized and processed for evidence, but would not discuss whose vehicle it was or what they may have learned in the search.
In the eight days that have passed since Haleigh disappeared, more than 1,200 tips have poured into a Crimestoppers hot line. The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said they are checking out each one.
"Sooner or later the one we need is going to come up and it's going to make the difference," Capt. Dick Schauland said Wednesday afternoon.
After eight full days, the investigators were asked if they were discouraged that Heleigh was not located.
"Are we frustrated? Absolutely. We wish we had this resolved day one -- with three hours. But discouraged? Absolutely not," Pape said. The men and women on this team, they're there every hour, every day giving 100 percent, and they will do that until we get resolution."
Schauland also announced that a Putnam County resident who wants to remain anonymous donated a $10,000 reward. That would be added to a $5,000 reward previously offered by the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation and the $1,000 Crimestoppers reward for any tip that leads investigators to Haleigh.
Anyone with information about Haleigh's disappearance should call at 888-277-TIPS or the FDLE's Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse at 888-FL-MISSING.
Haleigh's Great-Grandmother Speaks Out, Defends Croslin
A day after detectives said they were following up on a tip that Croslin may not have been at home when Haleigh disappeared, the 5-year-old's great-grandmother, Annett Sykes, said she doesn't believe the tip at all.
Sykes said there is no way Croslin wasn?t home the night Haleigh went missing.
"That's a crock. I went by the house that night. She fed them. She bathed them. Every morning when Haleigh went out to go to school, she looked like she just stepped out of a beauty shop," Sykes said. "Y'all don't know her. Those children love her, and she loves them. I know everybody makes a big deal that she's only 17, and that's true, but she's a lot more mature than a lot of people that I've seen and that I know who are 25 and 30."
Police said they received a tip that Croslin was out instead of home with Haleigh and her 3-year-old brother last Monday night. However, Sykes said that tipster was wrong.
"We have heard rumor after rumor after rumor that has scared the daylights out of us, and it was absolutely nothing but a rumor," Sykes said.
She said she last saw Haleigh outside on the porch eating dinner at 7 p.m. on Monday.
"Her and Junior were sitting up there with a plate in their lap and eating. When we drove up they hollered, 'Hey Granny. Hey Granny,' like they always do," Sykes said.
Putnam County officials said they are looking into the Croslin tip as a possibility, but added it's only one of hundreds of tips they've investigated.
"I don't know that you can say her story is changing," Putnam County Capt. Dick Schaulan said at a Wednesday morning briefing. "All I can tell you is that the tip we're receiving is the tip we're following up on."
Croslin told Channel 4 she is not lying about the situation and she was at home the night Haleigh disappeared.
Copyright 2011 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.