Tip: Dad's Girlfriend Wasn't Home When Haleigh Disappeared
Investigators Following About 1,200 Tips
PALATKA, Fla. – Since an Amber Alert was issued for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings one week ago, almost 1,200 tips have poured into a Crimestoppers hot line.
For the first time late Tuesday, investigators released information about one of those tips: that Haleigh's father's girlfriend, 17-year-old Misty Croslin, may not have been at home the night Haleigh disappeared.
Putnam County officials said they are looking into the Croslin tip as a possibility.
"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."
Haleigh was reported missing just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 10 when Croslin told authorities she woke up and found the child missing. Within minutes, Croslin and Haleigh's father, Ronald 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.
In multiple interviews with detectives and an interview with Channel 4, Croslin said she put Haleigh and the girl's younger brother to bed at about 8 p.m., and that at 10 p.m. both children were still in bed.
Croslin said when she awoke at about 3 a.m. to use the bathroom she noticed Haleigh was missing.
"I didn't make it to the bathroom. I seen the kitchen light on and I walked in the kitchen and the back door is wide open," Croslin told Channel 4's Laura Mazzeo. "I go in the room and she's gone. And that's all I know. When I went to bed she was there and then when I got up and she was gone."
Croslin has been interviewed by detectives and volunteered to take a lie-detector test -- which she said she passed -- but had not spoken publicly until midday Thursday when she spoke to Mazzeo.
"I didn't hear anything at all. If I'd heard something, I would have got up and I wouldn't have let them take her," Croslin said.
Croslin said Haleigh and her brother "look at me like their mom."
"I love her like she's my own," she said. "I just want her to come home."
Croslin said last week she doesn't blame herself, but she's emotionally devastated and just wants to know that Haleigh is safe.
"I wished they'd took me instead of her, because I could have fought," Croslin said. "She's only 5; she can't really do anything. What do they want with a little 5-year-old?"
Detectives said the lead that Croslin may not have been home when Haleigh went missing is just one of many tips they are looking into.
Investigators on Tuesday changed the Amber Alert description because they now have the pink T-shirt Haleigh was originally thought to be wearing the night she disappeared.
"We obtained information through our investigation that young Haleigh was not, in fact, wearing the pink shirt at the time of her disappearance," Putnam County Chief Deputy Rick Ryan said. "What we need people to focus on (Haleigh's) face because we do not know at this time what the clothing was."
Tuesday afternoon, officials said thet tips are pouring in -- doubling between Monday and Tuesday -- but there have been no confirmed sightings of Haleigh.
Still, officials said all tips are welcome and 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.
Hope Service Held For Haleigh
Over the past week, family and friends of Haleigh have come together to pray for the child's safe return during candlelight vigils. On Tuesday afternoon, instead of gathering for an outdoor candlelight vigil, they met a church a few miles from the Cummings' home.
Hundreds of people, some who do not know Haleigh or her family personally, gathered at Dunns Creek Baptist Church to pray for the missing 5-year-old girl.
"It's horrible that sometimes it takes tragedies to pull people together to wake them up and make them realize what's really important in this life," said Nancy Mann, who attended the hope service.
Haleigh's father, Ronald Cummings, and her mother, Crystal Sheffield, sat side-by-side throughout the service as they held their son and listened to words of encouragement. Croslin was also at the service, sitting on Cummings' other side.
Pastor Terry Wright said although some would argue that Tuesday's service was pointless because too many days have passed in the search for Haleigh, he said he's choosing not to adopt an attitude of despair.
"We're choosing to have hope because we believe in a God bigger than the statistics," Wright said.
The pastor ended the hope service by asking everyone to pray for Haleigh and for her family before they left.
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