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Cadaver Dogs Continue Searching Near Home Of Missing Girl

Haleigh Cummings Disappeared On Feb. 10

SATSUMA, Fla. – Another day of searching for Putnam County 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings began early Friday morning, when teams of dogs specially trained to find human remains arrived to again search the area around the mobile home park where the girl disappeared on Feb. 10.

The cadaver dogs also searched the area on Thursday. That afternoon, several different dogs alerted investigators to a large trash receptacle in the neighborhood and investigators began a painstaking searching it. After about six hours of scouring through the Dumpster, police said they found nothing that could be linked to the missing girl.

Brian Selzer of Canine Search and Rescue explained that the dogs brought to Satsuma have been trained to alert only on the scent of human decomposition, not meat or dead animals. He said the dogs could hit on something as small as a bandage used to cover a person's bloody cut.

"There's several anomalies that can cause a K-9 to hit. We don?t know what's in the mind of the dog. The dog did what it's trained to do. We did what we have to do afterward, which is to search. Everything comes done to the human search, and we found nothing of consequence," Putnam Sheriff's Office Maj. Gary Bowling said Thursday evening. "We don?t know why the dog hit, but there's nothing there that indicates that we need to search any further."

In comparison to the anxiety created by Thursday's Dumpster search, Friday -- day 18 in the search for Haleigh -- was calm.

Although detectives said they have searched the woods near Haleigh's home in the past they wanted cadaver dogs to search the area again.

Haleigh's family said it doesn't believe the dogs are necessary because they are confident the girl is alive.

"I believe that my Haleigh is alive and if you're looking out there in the woods and in the water and things, you're not looking for a live child. I trust the detectives to find my baby. I believe that they're doing what they are supposed to do -- what is required for them to do. I don't think she is out there. I think that my baby girl is alive out there somewhere. Somebody has her, and I pray to God that they will release her -- just let her come home," said Haleigh's grandmother, Teresa Neves.

Neves and other members of Haleigh's family have held candlelight vigils and prayed for the 5-year-old's safe return since the day she went missing.

On Friday, new banners with pictures of Haleigh were placed around town, begging anyone with information that could lead to a break in the case to call Crimestoppers.

"You have to keep that hope and that faith, you know. But there's always that little thing in there that scares you to death. To know she's not there is a relief. I didn?t feel like she was there. We just kept the faith, and probably would have died had it turned out any other way," Neves said about Thursday's Dumpster search.

Haleigh's Family Refuses To Return Home

For 18 days, the home where Haleigh lives with her father, Ronald Cummings, has been considered an active crime scene and surrounded with police tape. On Friday, Cummings' family was told it could return to the home, but they said they wouldn't do it.

The missing kindergartner was sleeping inside the home on the night of Feb. 9, when investigators said someone abducted her.

Until Friday, the home was off limits and Haleigh's family has taken shelter in a neighbor's yard, sleeping in tents.

Cummings said he has no intention of sleeping in his home while his daughter is still missing.

"Haleigh filled that house with laughter," Neves said.

She said her son would never live in the home again.

"It's where Haleigh lives. He cannot go in there and live without Haleigh -- her pictures are all over, all of her toys are there and all of the memories. He can't do it. I don?t even want to go in there," Neves said.

She said Cummings went into the house for just a moment to gather some clothes, but she said he might not ever return to the home.

Anyone with information about Haleigh's disappearance should call 888-277-TIPS or the FDLE's Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse at 888-FL-MISSING.