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 Baker County home of Crystal Sheffield

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Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida

PostSubject: Baker County home of Crystal Sheffield   Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:17 am

New search in Haleigh case covers mom's family property
About 40 officers from multiple law-enforcement agencies converged on the Baker County home of Crystal Sheffield.


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The search for Haleigh Cummings was reinvigorated Friday morning.

About 40 officers from multiple law-enforcement agencies converged on the Baker County home of Crystal Sheffield, the mother of the 5-year-old Satsuma girl who went missing in February.

Capt. Dominic Piscitello of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said authorities scoured about 40 acres and searched two bodies of water in and around Sheffield's family farm in Glen St. Mary. The search wrapped up about 2 p.m. with no major developments.

He said family members told authorities they'd buried horses, cows and goats on the property, and investigators wanted to ensure there were no other clues.

"We searched just about everything and came up empty," Piscitello said.

A forensic archaeologist said all the bones excavated by backhoes and manpower were animal in origin. Piscitello said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did a preliminary search of Sheffield's home the day Haleigh went missing, but this was the first full-scale investigation at the property.

Authorities from Putnam, Baker and Duval counties and the FDLE, clad in wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing, braved the 90-degree heat and tall grass for about four hours. Members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team and cadaver-sniffing dogs were also called in to assist.

Kim Picazio, a South Florida attorney who is representing Sheffield for free, said her client's family requested the search a few weeks ago to dispel any lingering accusations against Haleigh's mother.

"It was a way to protect the family from any allegations of wrongdoing," Picazio said. "They wanted a proper search on their property to make it clear to the world that Haleigh isn't there," she said.

Piscitello declined to comment if Sheffield and her family had advance notice of the search, but he said they signed a consent form allowing officers to come onto the property without a search warrant.

But William "Cobra" Staubs, a South Florida bounty hunter and former associate of Picazio's who helped in the hunt for Haleigh, said Sheffield was told last Friday about the upcoming search.

"They definitely knew about it ahead of time," he said.

This is the first large-scale operation in almost two months, authorities said. Investigators have been slogging through thousands of tips regarding the Satsuma girl's disappearance, and Piscitello said they haven't stopped for the kindergartner with the sandy brown hair.

"We'll leave no stone unturned," he said. "We haven't given up. Not for one second."

Check Jacksonville.com and Saturday's Times-Union for more.
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