Haleigh's Mother Pleads For 5-Year-Old's Return
Mom Has Messages For Whomever Took Haleigh
PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – Ten days since her daughter was last seen, Haleigh Cummings' mother said it feels like "her heart is being ripped out."
On the night of Feb. 9, the 5-year-old girl disappeared from her home in Satsuma. On Thursday evening, both of the missing child's parents, Ronald Cummings and Crystal Sheffield, spoke out and asked for their little girl's safe return.
Haleigh's parents stood close to each other at the evening's candlelight vigil, praying for their missing daughter. They said they are not giving up on Haleigh.
After the vigil, Sheffield had a message for the person who has her child.
"I hope you're watching this every day and see how much it hurts our families, and I hope it eats your heart out your chest," Sheffield said. "She's just a baby. It's torn my heart out of my chest, and I hope it's doing the same to you."
For 10 days, both Cummings' family and Sheffield's family have been sleeping in tents near the home from which Haleigh disappeared in order to be around whenever news breaks about the girl's whereabouts.
"I feel helpless, but I'm here and I'm not leaving until she's home," Sheffield said.
Earlier in the day, Cummings' girlfriend, Misty Croslin, was taken to the sheriff's office once again for more questioning. Detectives have remained tight-lipped about what was discussed with the 17-year-old.
"I hope she's telling the truth ? because my kids they love her. I hope she wouldn?t do nothing to hurt them," Sheffield said.
She and Cummings were brought separately to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office Wednesday afternoon for interviews.
However, officials downplayed those interviews as routine and said there's no break in the hunt for the girl.
"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."
The Sheffield family said they plan to make buttons, T-shirts and hats to try to add to the $16,000 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.
Dad To Haleigh: 'We Will Find You'
For the first time since Haleigh's disappearance, Cummings held his own news briefing outside his tent on Thursday.
The obviously fatigued father faced the news media, thanking all who have helped searched for the kindergartener, the media for spreading the word and to law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find the girl.
Cummings also said he doesn't suspect his 17-year-old girlfriend did anything wrong the night Haleigh disappeared.
"I don't have any suspicions of anybody," Cummings said. "Obviously, if I knew what was going on, I would have my daughter."
Cummings became defensive when asked questions about his background, reports that he had a fight with a cousin over a gun, and other events in the days before Haleigh disappeared.
"It's about my daughter gone missing, not what's going on in my life," Cummings said. "People say a lot of things and they don't know what they're talking about."
Haleigh's paternal grandmother, Teresa Neves, said Putnam County detectives told them they have several good leads, but referred all questions about the investigation to the officials.
Cummings ended the 10-minute briefing with a message for his daughter.
"I would like to tell my daughter, if she's watching, baby, I love you and we will find you," Cummings said. "I love you."
Neves' message was to whomever took Haleigh:
"Why don't you have a heart and bring her home?" Neves said.
Sex Predator Arrested; Police Say Arrest Not Linked To Haleigh's Disappearance
A registered sexual predator who lives one mile from the mobile home where Haleigh disappeared 10 days ago was arrested Thursday, but Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said there's no direct link to the girl's disappearance.
Timothy Randolph Loucakis, 50, was charged with violating the terms of his probation after officials said he was not home at 10 p.m. Wednesday night, which violated his curfew.
"We know where he was, by GPS, and we do have a team going down to that area just to do a preliminary search of that area," Hardy said Thursday afternoon.
Hardy said Loucakis was interviewed two hours after Haleigh was reported missing early the morning of Feb. 10. Deputies searched his home and checked his GPS monitoring bracelet, which showed he had not left his "home zone" during the time Haleigh disappeared.
Later that day, officers with the Florida Department of Corrections also visited Loucakis the same morning the Amber Alert being was issued for Haleigh.
"I'm not going to exclude anybody," Hardy said. "This man is a sex predator -- that means he's a dangerous individual."
Channel 4 learned that Loucakis was sentenced to five years in prison in 2001 on a conviction of promotion of sexual performance by a child and was to remain on probation with GPS monitoring until December of this year.
Hardy also confirmed Thursday that detectives received unconfirmed sightings of Haleigh in Tennessee and they have questioned a Tennessee relative of Misty Croslin -- the girlfriend of Haleigh's father who was the last person to see the 5-year-old.
"We're questioning a lot of people," Hardy said. "We have polygraphs going on as we speak."
Croslin herself was brought to the sheriff's office for additional questioning on Thursday, but Hardy said her interview was routine and she will be returned to her home later in the day.
On Wednesday, Cummings and Crystal Sheffield, Haleigh's mother, were each brought to the sheriff's office for interviews.
"As leads develop, we will always be going back to the family members," Florida Department of Law Enforcement's 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."
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