I just received this update from TJ Hart of The Sky 97.3 and wanted to pass it on to our readers. I think that one thing is becoming abundantly clear, it can be summed up in one word ‘frustration’. Simon
“We are working on it every day,” are the words of detectives and officers at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in Palatka, Florida tasked to solve the case of missing five-year-old Haleigh Cummings who was last seen February 10, 2009 in her father’s Satsuma home.
Lt. Johnny Greenwood said, “There has been a high level of frustration from the beginning of not being able to get to the logical conclusion, solve the case and return Haleigh to her family.”
Frustration is the word that describes the feelings of Haleigh’s family members, law enforcement, local officials and those who simply follow the case.
One person contacted me Monday nervously asking why the electronic sign in front of the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center no longer displayed Haleigh’s Amber Alert message and the picture of the little girl.
Thinking something had broken in the case, I called Putnam County authorities who told me “Unfortunately, the only thing that has broken was the sign.” They said they hoped to get it fixed soon with the Amber Alert displayed once again.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office first learned of Haleigh’s disappearance in a 911 call from Misty Croslin, the 17-year-old live-in girlfriend of Ronald Cummings, the girl’s father. Misty told investigators Haleigh was missing when she awoke at about 3 a.m. and saw the back door was propped open with a brick. Cumming ,arrived home about that time from his job on the night shift at a bridge company, .
Police sealed off the area, searching it on foot with dogs and later horses. Airplanes and helicopters looked from the air, while investigators and divers searched with the use of boats on the nearby St. Johns River.
The investigation has gone non-stop since day one.
After a round-table discussion in early June with the sheriff’s office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI and the State Attorney’s Office, it was announced that there were still more than 4,000 leads being followed.
A second meeting was intended, but never convened.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has also assisted in the case. But just what is FDLE’s role in these situations?
The FDLE employs analysts and forensic experts it can deploy to assist local departments. FDLE supervisors also can take over an investigation that might grow beyond the capabilities of a smaller force.
“The extent of our involvement is going to vary from case to case and agency to agency,” FDLE spokeswoman Kristen Perezluha said.
Generally, FDLE takes the lead in multi-jurisdictional crimes and assists with local cases, she said.
“Definitely our role is not to step on anyone’s toes but to offer assistance,” Perezluha said.
When help is needed, local law enforcement knows whom to contact. FDLE’s seven regional offices have long-established relationships with local departments and sheriff’s offices, she said.
FDLE has a Child Abduction Response Team, which pools resources from several agencies to help with searches. CART members go door-to-door and ask specific questions, allowing investigators to cover ground that would otherwise take officers days.
Another notable FDLE program is the Regional Domestic Security Task Force. Created after 9-11, it operates much like CART, pooling resources and preparing to handle a domestic-security issue.
Many concerned citizens have been applying pressure to local and state office holders, law makers and commissioners with emails demanding prompt and responsible action in solving the case.
Law enforcement has its hands full as they are now plowing through over 5,000 leads.
Lt. Johnny Greenwood with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has told me over and over again, “No one wants a resolution to this case faster than they do.”