Cops Search Florida River for 5-Year-Old Haleigh Cummings

Florida investigators searched a river today for missing 5-year-old.

February 17, 2009, 9:51 AM

April 13, 2010 — -- A Florida river has again become the focal point for a search of 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, who went missing more than a year ago.

Investigators today combed the St. John's River for Haleigh, who disappeared from her father's home in Satsuma, Fla., in February 2009. Satsuma is just 60 miles south of Jacksonville.

Calls into the Putnam County Sheriff's office were not immediately returned but, Lt. Johnny Greenwood told ABC News affiliate WTLV in Jacksonville that they were acting on a tip, but he declined to provide more details because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

The search ended for the day at 8 p.m., but police said investigators would be back at the river on Wednesday to resume the effort.

"No, we haven't found Haleigh," Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy told WTLV, but he said police would continue the search for "as long as it takes."

Hardy said he met today with members of the young girl's family.

"The conversations we had were between me and the family," Hardy said.

Misty Croslin, who was the last person to see Haleigh and who was being held on unrelated drug charges at St. John's County Jail, was taken by investigators to Putnam County, St. John's jail spokesman Sgt. Chuck Mulligan told

Mulligan said he did not know more details about why Croslin, who was Haleigh's father's girlfriend at the time the little girl disappeared and is now his ex-wife, might have been wanted for questioning.

The little girl disappeared from the home of her father, Ronald Cummings, Tuesday, Feb. 10. 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."

Ronald Cummings had left Haleigh and her 3-year-old brother in the care of Croslin, who was 17 at the time.

"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.

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

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

Even though an Amber Alert was issued and police received some 4,000 tips, the girl has not been found and no suspect or person of interest has ever been identified.

Throughout the ordeal, Haleigh's family has shown similar dogged determination.

"If I lost hope, what does she have left then?" Ronald Cummings, told ABC News' Orlando affiliate WFTV in February 2009. "Like I gave up on her? I'm not giving up on her. Never."

Florida police treated Haleigh's disappearance as an abduction, investigators said early on in the investigation, 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 at the time of her disappearance. "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, Crystal Sheffield, begged for her daughter's return.

"Whoever has her, I know you're watching," Crystal told "Good Morning America" in February 2009. "She ain't done nothing wrong. Please bring her back."

In June 2009, vowing to leave no stone unturned, investigators dug up much of the 30-acre Glen St. Mary home of Haleigh's grandmother, Marie Griffis, but only recovered animal remains.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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