4 years since Haleigh Cummings disappeared
Updated On: Feb 08 2013 09:20:27 PM EST
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has released an age progression photo of Haleigh Cummings of what she would look like at the age of 8. She would now be 9 years old.
Four years ago Saturday night, the then-5-year-old was put to bed in her Putnam County home. She was reported missing early the next morning, and never seen again.
Haleigh was last seen by her father's girlfriend, Misty Croslin, who was watching the girl while the girl's father, Ronald Cummings, worked an overnight shift.
Despite many searches and hours spent on the investigation, Haleigh was never found.
Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson said the more time that passes makes the investigation more complicated, but the detectives won't give up. He said cold case investigators are obligated to check into and follow up on every single lead that comes in.
"The child was reported missing, not reported dead," Jefferson said. "But right now she's presumed dead because she's not showed up anywhere. They have not found the body."
Two years ago, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying, "The ongoing investigation has minimized the likelihood that Haleigh's disappearance is the work of a stranger."
They said those who know what happened still won't tell investigators, even after several interviews with who may have been at the home the night Haleigh disappeared. Those people include Croslin, her brother, cousin and maybe two others.
"The good thing about cold case homicide is that there is no statute of limitations," Jefferson said. "They can always re-investigate and continue to follow up leads and do their due diligence with it."
The bad thing is it can get frustrating, but dedicated detectives won't ever give up.
"There are times when it feels like they're beating their head against a brick wall and you can naturally expect that, but they don't get discouraged because they have this mentality that they want to find the person responsible for the crime they're investigating," Jefferson said.
The difficulty with cold cases comes with so many dead ends, but there is always a glimmer of hope.
"It's not like every day they're doing something with it," Jefferson said. "Sometimes they have to put it aside and wait for additional leads to come in, look at the file, re-look at it again, look at all the people they've talked to, reread all the interviews that have gone on."
Misty Croslin, Hank Croslin Jr., Ronald Cummings and two others are serving lengthy prison sentences after arrests in 2010 for trafficking in pain pills.
Haleigh's grandparents say they still hold out hope Haleigh is alive, despite detectives working the case as a homicide.
A vigil will be held Sunday at the home of Haleigh's great grandmother, Annette Sykes, at 302 Osceola Avenue in Satsuma. The public is welcome to attend.
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