Rumors of Haleigh Cummings remains false

Sheriff's Office followed up on 1 of many tips it has received

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is dispelling rumors that spread Thursday afternoon of the recovery of Haleigh Cummings' remains.

The Sheriff's Office said it responded to an area in south Putnam County to check it as a result of one of many tips received during the investigation into the missing girl.

Investigators said a rumor spread throughout the community that her body had been located.

"This rumor is false, and this information has been vastly misreported and sensationalized," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release. "In an effort to prevent this false information from impeding our investigation, Sheriff (Jeff) Hardy wants to quell these rumors so we can maintain our focus on the criminal investigation."

The Sheriff's Office said that due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, agency members are still not participating in formal interviews. Deputies said there is also no additional information that investigators could provide that hasn't been released numerous times in the past.

Annette Sykes, Haleigh Cummings' great-grandmother, wasn't surprised Thursday's tip was false alarm.

"Well, they're looking for a dead little girl. I'm looking for a live little girl," said Sykes. "They can look anywhere they want, but they're not going to find her. She's somewhere alive. I really believe that."

Haleigh, then 5 years old, disappeared from her Satsuma home in February 2009. Investigators have classified this case as a homicide, though no remains have been found.

"My son (Haleigh's father, Ronald) called and said they heard that they had found Haleigh," said Sykes. "He asked if it was true and I told him I didn't know. I didn't even know they were looking."

Sykes isn't happy about the false alarm because of how she found out.

"It's emotional to think that they may find her," said Sykes. "But what really is irritating is the not knowing, that they go and do that kind of stuff, and I have to hear about it on the news."

Sykes said keeping Haleigh's picture up at her house is easy, but keeping her picture up around town has been hard. She said she was also disappointed with a recently released computer generated photo of what Haleigh might look like now.

An age progression photo of Haleigh Cummings, pictured left at age 5, shows what she would look like at age 8.
An age progression photo of Haleigh Cummings, pictured left at age 5, shows what she would look like at age 8.

Sykes says it could have been better because they didn't include the side of her face where Haleigh has a birthmark.

"Four years, people forget, and if they don't see or know about Haleigh, they won't look for her," Sykes said. "Out of sight, out of mind, and after four years, that's a long time."

Haleigh would now be 9 years old. The photo, above shows what she looked like when she disappeared on the left, and an age-progressed image of what she might have looked like at 8 years old.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office wants the public to know their investigation continues as always, and that they will continue to follow up on every lead in Haleigh's disappearance.