Tomorrow marks a dark anniversary, it will be two years that Haleigh Cummings has been missing. The story has been mired in controversy from the very early days. Theories abounded as to what might have happened to the young girl. The term ‘trial by media’ sums the case up in three short words. The 18th century British barrister Sir William Gallows is credited with coining the phrase ‘Innocent before proven guilty’, today it is a building block of modern justice.

The internet and mass media has had a profound effect on William Gallows sage words. Trial by media has become the norm. The Haleigh Cummings and Caylee Anthony stories are prime examples. Much like a trip to the local horse track, media and Netizens picked their favorites. In the case of Haleigh Cummings there were pro and anti groups for father Ronald Cummings, his most notable supporter being HLN’s Nancy Grace.

Underage babysitter/lover/wife/ex wife Misty Croslin on the other hand had few supporters and was a highly backed favorite for being the bad person.

As the story unfolded, the characters involved became stranger and stranger. Misty’s brother Tommy Croslin became a favorite target, was he part of the case? Was he implicated in the disappearance?

HLN rapidly became Dysfunction Junction. Ring master Nancy Grace introduced an ever growing number of unlikely characters. Denizens of the Double-Wide world abounded.

To bolster the untrained and often verbally challenged guests, Ms. Nancy also had a double Emmy winning journalist with a really bad habit of losing vital evidence, and a plethora of ho-hum lawyers looking for new business opportunities.

The one group of people that put themselves above the tabloid crap were the PCSO. At first I thought that they were just a bunch of small town hicks. They played their cards close to their chests. In fact they continue to do so. The one thing that became clear when dealing with the PCSO was that they would not be swayed by the press. Very occasionally they would reveal a little, it was almost always in an obscure fashion. I spent countless hours on the phone with a good friend of mine who was also covering the story. We sliced and diced the message we had received.

When the PCSO spoke it was not to just flap their lips. Sure, some of our information came through the back door, but the best stuff came from the press releases. The PCSO are the masters of the art. There was always a nugget of gold. Today is no exception. I have printed todays press release in its entirety:

Tomorrow marks two years of investigative efforts into the disappearance of Haleigh Cummings. During the early morning hours of February 10, 2009, Haleigh Cummings was reported missing from her residence in Satsuma. Sheriff Hardy’s interest in the public’s desire to bring Haleigh home, have led him to release the following update on the investigation.

As been reported in numerous media releases in the past, investigators from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and investigators from agencies throughout Florida have invested thousands of man-hours into the investigation thus far.

At this point, the evidence and investigatory effort has minimized the likelihood that Haleigh’s disappearance is the work of a stranger. The individuals with direct knowledge of Haleigh’s whereabouts the night she went missing have still failed to provide the necessary information to bring this case to a logical conclusion. Contradictory statements provided by these witnesses indicate that they are concealing information from the investigators.

Sheriff Hardy realizes the importance of keeping the public involved in this case, and appreciates all of the leads that have been provided thus far. Every lead that has been provided has been acted on by investigators. He also wants to assure the public, but mainly Haleigh’s family, that investigators will continue to aggressively pursue this case to the end. By no means is this case being considered “cold”. There are still individuals who hold important information, which if provided to investigators, could solve this case.

There have been numerous requests for interviews with detectives and other agency members concerning the investigation. Due to the sensitive nature of this case, the agency members are still not participating in formal interviews. There is also not any additional information that investigators could provide that hasn’t been given in media releases numerous times in the past.

Captain Johnny Greenwood
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office

Simon Barrett

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