Haleigh Cummings saga continues with new developments

Online petition to revisit case; Mother arrested in Baker County

BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – Two major developments in the Haleigh Cummings saga have surfaced this week.

A petition, started through Change.org, has been circulating on the Internet, calling for the Putnam County Sheriff's Office to revisit the disappearance of 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, which made national headlines in 2009.

And Cummings' mother, Crystal Sheffield (pictured below), has been arrested in Baker County for violating her probation. The nature of Sheffield's parole violation has not been released by authorities.

Baker County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Crystal Sheffield

Since late 2013, Sheffield has been arrested for petite theft, disorderly intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Ronald Cummings, Haleigh's father, was brought from prison to the Baker County Courthouse this week for a custody hearing for the pair's son, Ronald Jr., the brother of Haleigh Cummings.

Ronald Cummings was sentenced in 2011 to 15 years in prison for selling prescription drugs.

Sources told Channel 4 that as a result of the custody hearing, Sheffield lost custody of Ronald Jr. The Department of Children and Families will not confirm that information.

Haleigh Cummings' great grandmother, Annette Sykes (pictured below), spoke with Channel 4's Ashley Harding on Friday.

Annette Sykes is the great grandmother of Haleigh Cummings, a 5-year-old who disappeared from Putnam County in 2009.

"It's like someone just stole part of me,” Sykes said.

The front wall of Sykes' living room is covered with stuffed animals, cards and pictures. The words "Haleigh's Room" are pasted at the top.

"You tend to take things for granted, especially a child, because they're there,” Sykes said. “The things they do on a daily basis that you don't really pay any attention to until they're not there."

There have been no new developments in Haleigh Cummings' disappearance, but officials with the Sheriff's Office said they receive tips every month.

More than 1,000 signatures have been collected on an online petition calling for new attention to the case. Sykes said she doesn't blame the Sheriff's Office but said officials need to be more open with information.

"If they're doing things, they don't tell us,” Sykes said. “I mean, the least that you would think they would do is call us once in a while and say, 'We haven't forgotten about Haleigh.'"

Sykes said she believes someone knows exactly what happened but is just too afraid to come forward.

"You know, if they think that they're going to get in trouble or have to spend years in prison for knowing something, they're not going to tell,” Sykes said. “But if they're granted amnesty, they would tell, because then they wouldn't have to worry about getting in trouble."

Haleigh Cummings' great grandmother, Annette Sykes, has a wall of toys and gifts she's saving for Haleigh, a 5-year-old who disappeared from Putnam County in 2009.

In the meantime, Christmas presents and Easter baskets sit in "Haleigh's Room," waiting to be opened, and a grandmother waits for answers – a grandmother who still believes Haleigh is out there somewhere.

“I would love for people to continue to look for her,” Sykes said. “She's our little girl, and we love her and miss her. I know she misses us."

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.