|Published:||Apr 14, 2010 4:10 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Apr 14, 2010 4:10 PM EDT|
SATSUMA, Fla. - Investigators searched a murky river Tuesday for a 5-year-old girl who disappeared from her father's Florida mobile home more than a year ago.
Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy would not say why the river was being searched. He said he met with members of Haleigh Cummings' family Tuesday afternoon, but he would not say what he told them.
"The conversations we had were between me and the family," said Hardy, who also said Haleigh has not been found. Teams stopped searching around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday but planned to resume at dawn Wednesday, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission team member Ben Allen. He said the water was clouded with almost no visibility for most of the day. Divers from at least four agencies or counties helped in the search, using floodlights to help see underwater.
A deputy at the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said the agency was not making a statement Tuesday night. The blonde, curly haired girl disappeared from her father's doublewide mobile home in Satsuma, a rural community equidistant from Orlando to the south and Jacksonville to the north, in February 2009.
Her father's 17-year-old live-in girlfriend, Misty Croslin, was babysitting at the time. She told investigators she awoke at 3 a.m. Feb. 10 to find the girl gone and a back door propped open with a brick. The sheriff's office has questioned Croslin's credibility, saying investigators don't believe Haleigh was abducted by a stranger.
Authorities said Croslin failed to provide a detailed account of the late evening and early morning hours and called the account of her evening activities "sketchy."
During a quick news conference Tuesday, Hardy would not say whether he has switched from a missing persons case to a homicide investigation.
"That is a decision that will be made later," said Hardy, who also said Putnam investigators were questioning Croslin again Tuesday. She and Ronald Cummings, Haleigh's father, remain in custody after they were arrested in January in a drug sting. Both have pleaded not guilty. Sheriff's deputies blocked access on a main road to the St. Johns River during Tuesday's search, and TV news helicopters hovered overhead.
Haleigh's case was somewhat overshadowed by that of another missing girl - Caylee Anthony, the 2-year-old whose young mother has been charged in her murder. Caylee's memorial service was held just hours after Cummings was reported missing. Investigators followed thousands of leads and searched the heavily wooded community on foot, with doors and by air via plane and helicopter.
They also contacted all the sexual predators living in the area to eliminate them as suspects and searched the nearby St. Johns River by boat. Ronald Cummings and Croslin married about a month after Haleigh disappeared and then appeared on NBC's "Today" show while on their honeymoon. They are no longer together.
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