Reporter's Notebook: Desperation, Fatigue, Kindness
Observations Of Channel 4 Reporter Jennifer Bauer
SATSUMA, Fla. – When I am asked my thoughts about the last 24 days in Satsuma, the only word that comes to mind is desperation.
Haleigh's family is desperate for her to come home. They're also desperate for answers.
What happened to the 5-year-old? Where is she? Is she safe? Is she frightened?
The questions are endless and not having answers is the worst.
You can tell the long days and sleepless nights are taking their toll on everyone. Haleigh's paternal grandmother, Teresa Neves, told me she sleeps when she can.
A lot of people around the neighborhood choose to grab a few winks during the day, sitting up in a chair. I know this is true because I've seen them.
Sleeping and eating are not on the minds of people in Satsuma. Haleigh is.
The investigators on this case tell us they are just as desperate for information as the family is. Feb. 10, when we arrived in the neighborhood, FBI investigators were already there, detectives from all over the state, K-9 units on the ground, infrared choppers in the sky and search boats on the water. It was like nothing I had ever seen.
Since that day, things have slowed down and been scaled back tremendously. This week, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office tells us they have five officers assigned to this case who are working it around the clock.
Like Haleigh's family, I'm sure those investigators are just as consumed with questions about the little girl.
Something I've seen in Satsuma more than any place else: the kindness of strangers. Let me tell you, it goes a long way in situations like this.
My first week in Putnam County I met two women who drove all the way from Savannah, Ga., to provide the family with a warm, home-cooked meal.
Then, one night on the 10 o'clock news, I mentioned the Cummings family was in need of ice (to keep their food cold) and propane (to keep themselves warm).
Within 45 minutes later, a van pulled up carrying a family who had heard the requests on our news and brought the much-needed supplies. It was late and it was cold, but this family made the decision to come out and help. The Cummings family was very appreciative. It was a sweet moment that I know I won't forget.
There is still a lot to be done in this case. Police tell us they are no closer now to finding Haleigh then they were 24 days ago.
In the meantime, they're still following up on leads and tips that continue to come in.
I'll be back in Satsuma for more of our coverage. I hope you'll watch and I hope you'll spread the word about Haleigh and help bring her home.
- Jennifer Bauer
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