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 Family won't give up !!

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Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida

PostSubject: Family won't give up !!   Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:52 am

Family won't give up !!


Family won't give up search for missing Putnam girl
Father makes video plea asking for help in finding Haleigh Cummings

Concerned volunteer Don Knop ties up a poster of missing child Haleigh Cummings on Wednesday outside the Haleigh Bug Center near Satsuma, a memorial center intended to keep the community aware of the missing 5-year-old.

(Picture...couldn't get it.....)

The father of a missing Satsuma girl made a video plea last week asking people not to forget his daughter.

"Don't give up. It's been a long time, but she's still out there somewhere. And the one tip that you think might be nothing might be the one that brings her home, and we still need her to come home," Ronald Cummings said in a short video posted on the Web site www.findhaleighnow.com.

"Haleigh, if you're watching, baby, I love you, and we're still looking for you," he said.

More than three months since Haleigh Cummings was last seen, the same message of persistence and hope was voiced at the Haleigh Bug Center.

The purple office building next to U.S. 17 in Putnam County is dotted with faux butterflies and features a banner with the child's picture.

"It's to keep Haleigh's face out there as much as possible," Don Knop said before hanging the banner.

Knop has been helping at the center, acting as needed as a manager, director and volunteer.

The single-story office collects donations to aid in the search for "Haleigh Bug," as her dad calls her, and offers a tip line, as does the Web site www.haleighbug.com.

Until recently, the office also had been a place where the girl's mother, Crystal Sheffield, could stay and remain near the location where her child was last seen.

Sheffield lives in Baker County and traveled back and forth between the two counties until Knop and her attorney, Kim Picazio, said she was told to get some rest.

Sheffield has had seizures, including one while she was driving and another at the center where she fell and hit her head, Picazio and law enforcement said.

Doctors have not been able to determine a cause, said Picazio, who indicated stress might be a factor.

But the news Haleigh's neighbors want isn't from the families, but from investigators, who have remained quiet about the case except to say they still are searching.

Putnam County Sheriff's Capt. Dick Schauland stressed that if the agency had information that would lead to the girl's safe return, investigators would release it regardless of the impact on the case.

For now, however, he said the agency continues to follow up leads and re-interview people close to Haleigh depending on what new information comes forward.

About 200 to 300 interviews have been conducted in the case, he said, with some people interviewed as many as 10 times.

"At this point, I would have to tell you we don't know where Haleigh is, and we don't know what has happened to her. Nobody has been named as a suspect. Nobody has been disqualified," Schauland said. "It is a mystery. It really is."

The Sheriff's Office has had more than 4,000 leads, with tips still coming in - but not at the furious pace as at the beginning of the investigation, and no recent reports that anyone has seen Haleigh, Schauland said.

Detective Peggy Cone now is the lead investigator, Schauland said.

The law enforcement agency estimated it had spent about $66,000 on 2,279 hours of overtime in the search.

Schauland and Picazio both said there is an ongoing investigation involving Haleigh and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Picazio said the investigation, prompted from various sources throughout the community, involves Ronald Cummings, who had custody of Haleigh at the time of her disappearance.

Schauland wouldn't confirm the subject of the DCF investigation.

One of the neighbors who lives near the home where Haleigh was last seen says he thinks the Sheriff's Office knows more than it's saying.

"When they get the puzzle all together, the public will know about it. The law has its privilege of keeping things to itself," said James Batchelor, 88.

Looking out at the neighborhood from his front porch, Batchelor said things are quieter.

The tents and vehicles associated with the search for Haleigh have mostly left.

Another neighbor, however, said Haleigh's disappearance followed by the concentration of police, onlookers and news media was too much.

Asking not to be named, she said she and her husband are trying to sell their home.

The woman said she doesn't feel safe anymore and that living in a neighborhood frequented by law enforcement wasn't her idea of moving away from the big-city experience in Orlando.

Batchelor said he believes the case will be solved.

"I hope to God she will," he said when asked if he thought Haleigh could be recovered safe. "I believe it will be solved. I hope so because that little angel didn't deserve what happened to her."
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Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida

PostSubject: Re: Family won't give up !!   Sat Jul 25, 2009 6:01 am

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