Haleigh Cummings Likely Dead, Case Now Homicide Investigation

April 16th, 2010 by

SATSUMA, FLA. — The sheriff said Thursday that a 5-year-old girl who disappeared more than a year ago is likely dead, and he believes her body is somewhere along a stretch of river being searched by divers.

Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said a tip led investigators to the stretch of the St. Johns River where 20 to 30 divers have searched the past three days for Haleigh Cummings’ body, declining to elaborate on the tip.

He told a news conference that he feels comfortable for the first time calling the case a homicide investigation. Detectives have identified persons of interest.

“People are starting to cooperate, that’s why I’ve told people it’s only a matter of time,” Hardy said. “It’s a good thing. People are starting to talk.”

The divers have been hindered by murky conditions but some items have been recovered from the river.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Hardy said. “But we’re willing to take the effort and time to look for the needle.”

Haleigh vanished from her father’s home in Satsuma, in northeast Florida, in 2009.

Her father’s 17-year-old live-in girlfriend, Misty Croslin, was baby-sitting at the time. She told investigators she woke up to find Haleigh gone and a back door propped open with a brick.

The sheriff’s office has questioned Croslin’s credibility, saying investigators don’t believe Haleigh was abducted by a stranger. Croslin currently is in jail on unrelated drug charges.


April 15, 2010 06:33 PM EDT

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