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 Somer found — why not Haleigh?

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PostSubject: Somer found — why not Haleigh?   Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:36 am

Somer found — why not Haleigh?
Investigators quickly discovered Somer Thompson's body, but factors explain why Haleigh Cummings remains missing

By Anthony Colarossi Sentinel Staff Writer

October 31, 2009
ORANGE PARK — Across the street from where 7-year-old Somer Thompson lived in suburban Orange Park, a memorial grows in the shade of an old oak.

Friends, family and strangers leave candles, flowers, prayer cards, teddy bears, balloons and short, hopeful notes: "You're OK now. God got U Baby" and "You are my Sunshine" and "Justice for Somer."

Profound sadness surrounds the place, but so does a certain sense of closure: Somer Thompson lived here. She is gone now. Somebody did a horrible thing to her, but many others loved this girl.

Fifty miles south in rural Satsuma, there is no closure.

In February, 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings' disappearance captured national attention. Now a billboard along U.S. Highway 17 flashes Haleigh's face every few seconds at drivers passing through town and provides a number to call with tips.

But unlike Somer, whose body was discovered in a Georgia landfill two days after she disappeared, Haleigh has never been found.
Missing-children's experts involved in both cases say the cooperation of Somer's family and her community coupled with some creative and aggressive detective work by the Clay County Sheriff's Office led to the girl's discovery.

At the same time, some say inconsistencies in the account given by the last person thought to have seen Haleigh late Feb.9 has hindered the efforts of investigators with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

The difference between the cases is one little girl being found and put to rest near her home — and a series of fruitless searches through woods, lakes and fields that have turned up no body after nearly nine months.

"In Clay County, they said, 'You know, we've got a little girl missing. Let's go to work,'" said Tim Miller, founder of Texas EquuSearch, who is familiar with both cases. "They've got a family that's being honest. They've got a community that's being honest. They got right in on it, and they just did a tremendous job."

On Tuesday, Somer was buried at Jacksonville Memory Gardens near her home. The discovery of her body has the community frightened, but also confident her killer will be found.

But in Haleigh's case, investigators initially thought the child had been abducted from the Satsuma double-wide of her father, Ronald Cummings. By mid-August, about the time Haleigh would have turned 6, they were publicly expressing doubt that a stranger had taken Haleigh. And investigators noted that Misty Cummings "continues to hold important answers in the case." At the time of Haleigh's disappearance, Misty Cummings was Misty Croslin but later married Haleigh's father. They have since divorced.

Tests have shown Misty Cummings to be deceptive when answering questions about Haleigh's disappearance.

"From very, very early on, we stated publicly there were inconsistencies in Misty's story about what happened that evening," said Putnam Deputy Sheriff Hancel Woods, adding that investigators continue to work the case daily, as they have handled nearly 6,000 tips.
While praising the team investigating Somer's case in neighboring Clay County, Woods said the two cases have many differences, and nothing at this point suggests they might be related.

"Obviously there are similarities drawn due to geographic proximity and the girls' ages, but each case stands on its own," Woods said.

Crucial differences
Though Clay detectives have received widespread praise for finding Somer so soon, experts say Putnam officials have done their job well, too.

"Putnam County [investigators] did everything right," Miller said this week. "Unfortunately they didn't have a damn thing to work with."

Investigators working on the Somer Thompson case had the pressure of time slipping away with each hour Somer was missing. But they were prepared. Several months earlier, they had trained for just such a scenario: a child who went missing after school.

They had started searching Somer's neighborhood quickly, including the trash coming out of the Grove Park neighborhood, where the girl was last seen walking home from school early last week, according Clay Sheriff Rick Beseler.
Continued here...... http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/crime/orl-somer-haleigh-103109,0,340366.story?page=2

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