George Anthony, Other Familiar Faces Involved in Haleigh Cummings Case

Familiar faces from Caylee case involved in new search for 5-year-old Haleigh.

ByLEE FERRAN via via logo
February 12, 2009, 9:23 AM

Feb. 13, 2009 — -- George Anthony, grandfather of the late Caylee Anthony, joined the family of missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings Thursday to support them, Anthony's attorney, Brad Conway, told ABC News.

"He wanted to go and comfort the family," Conway said. "He saw Haleigh's father on TV. Anyone could see the anguish on his face. George particularly related to that. He felt like he had to go."

In a case that garnered national attention, George Anthony's granddaughter, Caylee, disappeared in June of last year. After six months of desperate searching, Caylee's body was discovered less than a mile from the Anthony home in Orlando.

Along with George Anthony, the search for Cummings, which began after the girl disappeared from her father's Satsuma, Fla., home Tuesday, has attracted several familiar faces from the Anthony case. Police are treating the investigation as an abduction.

Leonard Padilla, the California bounty hunter who bailed Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, out of jail during the Caylee case, arrived in Satsuma Tuesday and has offered a $25,000 reward if the child is returned by midnight Saturday.

"I'm doing it because I think the child's alive," Padilla told ABC News.

The reward comes with no questions asked. "Money for the child. Alive," he said.

Texas EquuSearch, headed by founder and director Tim Miller, is organizing a civilian search effort, much like the one that drew thousands of searchers for Caylee, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel.

According to Conway, George Anthony is attempting to use his notoriety to bring attention to Haleigh's case, but realizes such a strategy could be a double-edged sword.

"[The Anthonys] have been working behind the scenes for the last few days," Conway said. "They have been contacting people in the media to publicize it. But nobody wants to detract from the search effort. They don't want this to turn into a George and Cindy story with that girl still missing up there."

Search for Caylee Ended Tragically, George Looking for Alternate Ending

Conway said Anthony is not looking for redemption in finding this little girl, at least not yet. "That's what he's going to be thinking, 'I lost my little girl, but we found this one,'" Conway said.

But, until she's found, Conway insisted he's "not thinking of himself."

"I'm sure he wants to see the joy on [Haleigh's parents'] faces when they find her," he said.

After the remains of his granddaughter were identified in December, George Anthony took the news especially hard. In January, police found him in a Daytona motel on the brink of suicide.

Conway is desperately hoping, for George's sake, that Haleigh's case ends differently.

"My concern is, if this is another tragic end, how is he going to handle that?" Conway said. "Given what he's been through, and " target="_blank">recent hospitalization, I worry about that."

Police Treating Missing Haleigh Case as an Abduction

Florida police are treating the disappearance of 5-year-old Haleigh Sheffield as an abduction, investigators said Thursday, after concluding she did not simply wander off alone.

"All the world is a suspect," Detective John Merchant of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office told reporters. "We are going to treat everybody, every family member, every associate, like a suspect until we eliminate them."

As police launched a massive search effort that included divers and K-9 units, Haleigh's mother, Crystal Sheffield, begged for her daughter's return.

"Whoever has her, I know you're watching," Crystal told "Good Morning America." "She ain't done nothing wrong. Please bring her back."

Haleigh, whose parents do not live together, disappeared from the Satsuma, Fla., home of her father, Ronald Cummings, Tuesday. He reported her missing in an desperate 911 call.

"I just got home from work and my 5-year-old daughter is gone," he told a dispatcher. "If I find whoever has my daughter before you all do, I'm killing them. I don't care if I spend the rest of my life in prison."

There are 44 registered sex offenders within a five-mile radius of the home.

Ronald Cummings had left Haleigh and her 3-year-old brother in the care of his 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin.

Haleigh 'Sleeping Right Next to' Father's Girlfriend

"She was sleeping right next to me," Croslin told the Palatka Daily News. "I can't believe I didn't hear anything."

Ronald Cummings told police that when he returned from work early Tuesday morning, the back door was propped open and Haleigh was gone.

"Somebody came in my back door, broke into my home and stole my daughter," he said.

On Wednesday night friends and neighbors held a small vigil for the little girl. The search effort has also attracted several volunteer groups that could join the search today, according to The Associated Press.

"I don't know why somebody would take her," the mother said. "I'm scared for her. She is probably scared and cold and hungry."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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