SATSUMA, Fla. – The great-grandmother of missing Putnam County girl Haleigh Cummings said she's running out of time to find out what happened to Haleigh.
The girl was reported missing from her home in the Hermits Cove area of Satsuma on Feb. 10, 2009. She was 5 years old.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Thursday released an updated age-progression photo of Haleigh at age 12.
Annette Sykes, Haleigh's great-grandmother, told News4Jax on Thursday that she has Stage 4 cancer.
“I’d like to know before I leave this earth what happened to my little girl,” Sykes said.
At the time she was reported missing, Haleigh was under the care of her babysitter, 17-year-old Misty Jeanette Croslin, who was dating Haleigh's father. He was working a night shift that night.
Sykes is still hoping for any piece of information to bring Haleigh back.
She said that despite what police say, she believes that Haleigh is alive and the new photo gives her more hope.
Sykes said she hadn’t seen the photo until her interview with News4Jax, but now it will be added to the walls of the room that Sykes keeps in Haleigh's honor.
“I'm just wondering if that’s really what she looks like, you know? It very well could be. The eyes are good,” Sykes said, her eyes filled with tears.
Sykes said she took Haleigh's picture to authorities three months ago for the age progression photo to be made.
“We always have hope,” Sykes said. “Until they bring us a body or some definite proof, indisputable proof that she’s deceased, she’ll always be alive in our hearts and in our minds.”
Sykes said January is a difficult month for her because it leads into the anniversary of the girl's disappearance. Next month will mark the seventh year since she disappeared.
Local and state law enforcement agencies have spent thousands of hours on the investigation, but any leads have come to a dead end. Agents and deputies traveled as far as Wyoming, Tennessee and various other locations, while following those leads.
Haleigh’s case is still an open investigation at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office overseen by Chief of Detectives Capt. Dominic Piscitello.
“My office will not rest while trying to determine the whereabouts of Haleigh Cummings,” Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said in a news release. “We are still actively following up on any information we receive and the investigation is continuing.”
Sykes said she isn’t able to have any contact with Haleigh’s family or her little brother, a link to her great-granddaughter.
“We love him and miss him,” Sykes said. “It’s like losing her all over again. He was our one contact with her.”