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Dumpster Scoured In Search For Haleigh

Investigator: Cadaver Dog Alerts Officers To Dumpster

SATSUMA, Fla. – There was a new tip and a new hunt in Thursday's search for Haleigh Cummings. Neither, however, provided any new information about what happened to the 5-year-old that has been missing for 17 days.

Thursday morning, several teams of dogs specially trained to find human remains began searching in the area around the Putnam County mobile home park where Haleigh disappeared on Feb. 10.

Nine Putnam County deputies and seven canine teams, some from a non-law-enforcement group called Canine South, were searching "to ensure that no possibility is overlooked in the search for Haleigh."

Late in the afternoon, three different cadaver dogs alerted on 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.

"It could be various items, and may not necessarily be something related to the case," said Brian Selzer, of Canine Search and Rescue as investigators searched through the plastic bags found in the Dumpster.

Selzer explained that the dogs brought to Satsuma on Thursday 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.

Detectives went through the large Dumpster by hand, and then a backhoe was brought in to go through some excess debris at the bottom of the container.

After going through every square inch of the Dumpster, they gave up the search.

"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," said Putnam Sheriff's Office Maj. Gary Bowling. "We don?t know why the dog hit, but there's nothing there that indicates that we need to search any further."

Investigators said they searched around the same Dumpster in the days after Haleigh's disappearance, but found nothing. They said the never went into the Dumpster until Thursday evening.

According to investigators, all of the garbage in the area in the days following Haleigh's disappearance was taken to a special part of the county's landfill and gone through piece by piece. They said there was no sign of anything relating to the missing girl.

The cadaver dogs are expected to return to the area on Friday to continue to search the area for clues.

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.

Haleigh's Family Remains Optimistic

Haleigh's family members have been doing nothing but hoping and praying for the past 17 nights that investigators will get the one tip to lead them on the right track, but no one wanted to hear that cadaver dogs alerted officers to Dumpster just feet from Haleigh was last seen.

Detectives said the scent the dogs picked up could be nothing, and then they confirmed it was nothing related to Haleigh's disappearance. Nonetheless, the girl's family had a rough few hours as investigators searched the Dumpster.

"I've spoken with a couple of times. I just feel like Haleigh is alive, and we're going to keep believing that," said Haleigh's paternal grandmother Teresa Neves. "It could have been any kind of thing in there. It could have been Band Aid. We're just keeping our faith in God and believing that Haleigh is alive and safe."

"I just keep praying and asking God if something has happened to her, show me. He has not given me a sign," said Haleigh's maternal grandmother, Marie Griffis.

Both families said they were relying heavily on faith as investigators swarmed and searched the Dumpster.

Both families also held candlelight vigils on Thursday evening as they have every night since Haleigh disappeared.

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