SATSUMA, Fla. — The disappearance of 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings out of Putnam County hits its 10-year anniversary Feb. 9, with no answers on the horizon. Arguably one of the biggest mysteries out of the Northeast Florida area continues to haunt the Satsuma community.
Action News Jax sat down with her family who gained national attention for their recovery efforts.
"It's been 10 long, hellacious years that we've waited,” Haleigh’s grandmother Annette Sykes said. “All we want is for somebody to please tell somebody something so that we can get her."
Haleigh disappeared out of her Satsuma home in the middle of the night in February 2009. The last person to see her alive was her father’s 17-year-old girlfriend at the time, Misty Croslin.
On this night, she told police she woke up to find Haleigh’s bed empty and the back door opened. She believed she was taken. Years later, police found her story to change.
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Haleigh’s father, Ronald Cummings, was at work at the time and reported his child missing when he got home that evening.
Haleigh’s biological mother was incarcerated at the time but has since been released. Family told Action News Jax she now has custody of her son, Haleigh’s younger brother.
Action News Jax sat down with the lead detective in her case, Capt. Dominic Piscitello with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. He is also the chief of detectives. He took reporter Elizabeth Pace back to Haleigh’s old Satsuma house.
New occupants live there, but Piscitello said it looks the same as 10 years ago.
“It's kind of saddening because we haven't figured it out,” Piscitello said. “This is a place where a little girl went missing from, an innocent child that had no control over anything in her life. She was merely a mechanism of her family and she is potentially gone because of what her family was or wasn't, they didn't keep her safe."
As deputies searched for a missing 5-year-old girl, Piscitello said Croslin’s story changed with details of what happened that night. He said her story did not match the timeline of events causing doubt in her original statement.
"She was responsible for watching that child,” Piscitello said. “The child went missing and then she never told us all the truth. Why in the beginning did she not tell us the truth? Why did she lie about a lot of different things to us, for what reason? So there's a key there somewhere."
Croslin and Cummings never faced charges for Haleigh’s disappearance. The couple went on multiple national outlets asking for the public’s help. Then they got married about a month after Haleigh vanished.
The couple was arrested years later in a drug sting and sent to prison, where they remain today.
Piscitello said their department continues to get tips about Haleigh’s case. It holds the largest collection of evidence at their office.
Sykes said she believes Haleigh was abducted and made a tearful plea for answers.
“What kind of human being does that,” Sykes said. “The least they could do is call us or get us a message somehow to tell us where she is or where we can go pick her up or go get her. I don’t know how anyone can do that to another human being.”
She continues to save gifts for Haleigh, in hopes that one day she will return home.
“You never give up hope,” Sykes said. “You always wait for that clue to come in, those tips some will give. You never want the tips to stop coming in.”
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