Search for Haleigh: "Items of Interest" Found

By: Gainesville (Fla.) Sun
By: Gainesville (Fla.) Sun

SATSUMA, Fla. - Investigators on Friday found several "items of interest" during a fresh search of the area near Haleigh Cummings' home in Satsuma.

During a news conference, Putnam County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Rose declined to describe the items or say where they were found. He did say that any items of evidentiary value would be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Jacksonville for examination.

Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said earlier Friday that law officers were expanding their search territory to include some difficult-to-search places that are thick with brush. He declined to describe the paramaters, except to say that the new area includes land and water, and that the volunteers involved would include people on horseback.

The search for Haleigh, 5, has been ongoing since Tuesday, and investigators have received more than 350 leads, Hardy said. He was standing at the command center in Satsuma, not far from the double-wide mobile home where Haleigh lives with her father, his girlfriend and her younger brother.

The child was last seen at 10 p.m. Monday. She was asleep while her father, Ronald Cummings, was at work. His girlfriend, Misty Croslin, said she awoke about 3 a.m. Tuesday to find the child gone.

Since then, law officers and volunteers have searched this rural area of Putnam County, but to no avail. They are treating the case as an abduction, operating on the theory that this 5-year-old girl - who relatives say is afraid of the dark - would be unlikely to wander off very far.

"We had a very productive day," Rose said during the 4 p.m. news conference. "We were successful in securing in what would be described as items of interest."

Earlier Friday, authorities confirmed the following:

Investigators planned to conduct more interviews with relatives and others on Friday. That included some re-interviews. Hardy declined to list names, to talk about polygraph examinations or to say why people were being re-interviewed.

All 44 registered sex offenders who live within a 5-mile radius of the Cummings home have either been interviewed or had their whereabouts confirmed.

There were more than 200 volunteers on the ground and at least 50 law officers. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials on the ground were either veterans of these kinds of cases or have received special training - or both.

Hardy declined to address the issue of whether Croslin - the girlfriend of Haleigh's father - has changed her story in any substantial way. First reports indicated that Croslin, who is 17, had been sleeping in the same bed as Haleigh. Later, the girlfriend said they were in the same room but different beds.

The search will continue on Saturday. The next news conference is set for 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon Eastern time.


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