Police and volunteers are still searching in and around rural Satsuma, Florida for 5-year-old Haleigh Ann Marie Cummings.
Haleigh vanished sometime between 10 p.m. Monday night and 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. According to WDBO radio, authorities have released the 911 call Haleigh’s father made when he came home early Tuesday. Ronald Cummings had discovered that the rear door to his double-wide was open and his daughter was missing. Via News4Jax.com we have a transcript of his dialogue with the 911 operator:
CALLER: I just woke up and my back door was all open and I can’t find my daughter.
DISPATCH: Can’t find what?
CALLER: My daughter.
DISPATCH:Ok. When did you last see her?
CALLER: Um, we just like, you know, it was about 10 o’clock. She was sleeping (inaudible).
DISPATCH: Ok. How old is your daughter?
CALLER: She’s 5.
DISPATCH: OK. What was she last seen wearing, Ma’am?
CALLER: She was in her pajamas. We were sleeping.
DISPATCH: OK. Alright, you said your back door was wide open?
CALLER: Yes, with a brick. Like, there was a brick on the floor. Like, when I went to sleep the door was not like that.
DISPATCH: Was your back door locked do you know?
CALLER: Yes. The back door always stays locked.
FATHER: I just got home from work, my 5-year-old daughter is gone. I need someone to be here now. I’m telling you. If I find whoever has my daughter before you all do, I’m killing him. I don’t care. I’ll spend the rest of my life in prison.
DISPATCH: It’s OK sir, we got them on the way. Can you give me a description of the pajamas she was wearing?
FATHER: I don’t (expletive) know I was at work.
A police spokesperson has said that the case is “truly still a whodunit.” Authorities still aren’t sure whether they have an abduction or a simple missing child on their hands. The same spokesperson, Maj. Gary Bowling, also told reporters that police “haven’t lost ground, but we haven’t gained any ground that we can you know plant a stake in and say yeah we’re making progress in this area.”
At this time, neither Misty Croslin, Ronald Cummings’s teen girlfriend, nor Cummings himself are considered suspects. Up to 25 registered sex offenders live in the area, and police are questioning them as well.
Haleigh’s father has insisted that she was afraid of the dark and would not roam at night. This may have been why he was so certain right away that his daughter had been abducted. A 2-year-old child was asleep in the same room as Haleigh, and he was fine. Police said there was no sign of forced entry into the mobile home.
The Cummings residence is on a rural road in a heavily wooded area. I’m tempted to reject the idea of a sex offender kidnapping the little girl, but then I realize that in some ways, this case bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the disappearance of Jessica Lunsford.
Except, that is, for the age of the missing child. Every time I’ve written about a missing child who fell prey to a sexual predator, that child has been at least 7 or older. Predators who target children as young as 4 or 5 certainly do exist — but they are relatively rare. Rarer still — silent snatching in the dead of night. Joseph Edward Duncan III snatched two children in the dead of night, but he killed the childrens’ family to eliminate witnesses — and just maybe because he wanted to.
The odds are, most of the time, that a child as young as Haleigh Cummings is more likely to fall prey to someone close to her.
The Amber Alert for Haleigh is still active. If you have information regarding the disappearance of this little girl, call the Putnam County Sheriff at 386-329-0808.