Details of Disappearance
Haleigh was last known to be sleeping in her family's trailer in the 200 block of Green Lane in the area of Hermit's Cove in Satsuma, Florida, late in the evening on February 9, 2009.
She went to bed at 8:00 p.m. Her father's live-in girlfriend of five months, Misty Janette Croslin (sometimes identified in the media by her later married name, Misty Cummings), went to sleep in the same room at 10:00 p.m. Haleigh's three-year-old brother was also sleeping in that room.
Haleigh's father, Ronald Lemyles Cummings, finished working second shift and arrived home sometime after 3:00 a.m. on February 10. Misty told him she'd just discovered Haleigh was missing from her bed. The rear door to the trailer was several inches ajar and the screen door had been propped open with a cinder block. Ronald and Misty called 911 at 3:37 a.m. to report Haleigh's disappearance.
The police found no sign of forced entry to the trailer, but they are uncertain whether the back door was locked. Ronald and Misty have insisted that it was, and Ronald maintains the trailer was broken into.
Haleigh's younger brother told investigators that a man dressed in black had come to their home that night and taken his sister. Authorities aren't sure how much credence to give to his story, given his age. An extensive search of the area turned up no sign of Haleigh. Her father stated she wouldn't have left home by herself at night, as she is afraid of the dark.
Initial reports were that Haleigh was last seen wearing a pink shirt and underwear, but police later said they'd found the shirt. They wouldn't say where, but Misty says she found it in the laundry pile after she was allowed back into the house. Investigators now say they don't know what Haleigh was wearing the night of her disappearance.
Photos of Ronald and Misty are posted with this case summary. They got married in March, a month after Haleigh's disappearance. Ronald stated he thought Haleigh would have wanted it. They needed to get permission from Misty's parents, as she was only seventeen years old.
In October 2009, six months into the marriage, Ronald filed for divorce. He cited irreconcilable differences as the reason, mainly the stress caused by Haleigh's disappearance and the subsequent police investigation and media attention. The divorce became final within days; since Ronald and Misty had only been married a short time and they didn't share any property or have any children together, there was little to discuss.
Haleigh visited her biological mother, Crystal Sheffield, every other weekend. A photo of Sheffield is posted with this case summary. She and Ronald, who never married, separated four years before Haleigh disappeared and fought over custody of their two children in court.
Ronald wanted custody because Sheffield had admitted to using cocaine and because Haleigh had missed several doctor's appointments while in her care. Sheffield alleged Ronald was violent. She once sought a protective order against him, but the case was dismissed.
Ronald was given full custody of both children in December 2005. He had minor brushes with the law, mainly drug arrests, prior to Haleigh's disappearance, but in most cases the charges were dropped or he got deferred adjudication.
Both Sheffield and Ronald retained attorneys after Haleigh's disappearance. Through her attorney, Sheffield accused Ronald of child abuse and neglect. Both sides' attorneys have since withdrawn their representation. Police also questioned Sheffield's fiance as well as other family members, friends of the family, and neighbors.
Police repeatedly questioned Misty about Haleigh's disappearance and looked into the possibility that she wasn't in fact at home when the child disappeared. Misty describes herself as a devoted caregiver to Haleigh and her brother and said she had been home the entire night and hadn't left the children alone.
Investigators have been publicly skeptical of Misty's story, stating she failed four polygraphs and one voice stress test, and changed her story multiple times; they described her accounts as "consistently inconsistent."
Misty and her older brother, Hank Thomas "Tommy" Croslin Jr., later accused Joseph "Joe" Overstreet of kidnapping Haleigh. Overstreet, who is from Tennessee, was in Florida when the child disappeared. He visited the Cummings home on February 9 and left only a few hours before Haleigh vanished. The next day he returned to Tennessee.
Photos of Overstreet and Tommy are posted with this case summary. Misty stated Overstreet had sexually abused her when she was a child and had been involved in criminal activity his whole life, although he is not registered as a sex offender.
Tommy was the first to accuse Overstreet of kidnapping, stating Overstreet planned to steal a machine gun from the Cummings residence and, when he couldn't find it, he threatened Misty with a knife and took Haleigh. Overstreet and Tommy drove to the St. Johns River, five miles from Haleigh's home, and Overstreet threw the child in the water. Misty later affirmed his statement, saying she had lied earlier because she was afraid of her cousin.
Overstreet denies any involvement in Haleigh's disappearance and he hasn't been charged in connection with it or even named as a suspect, although he has been interviewed. Authorities searched the river in April 2010 and brought Misty to the dock, but the search yielded nothing of interest.
Misty, Tommy and Ronald were arrested on unrelated drug trafficking charges in January 2010, along with Ronald's cousin, and a friend. Ronald and the other defendants all pleaded guilty, except for Misty, who pleaded no contest. All the defendants except Misty were sentenced to fifteen years in prison; Misty got twenty-five years. Ronald was released from prison in 2022. Misty isn't scheduled for released until at least 2031.
Haleigh's favorite food is macaroni and cheese, and her favorite things to play with are makeup and her laptop computer. At the time of her disappearance, she was a kindergarten student at Browning Pearce Elementary School in San Mateo, Florida. Her case remains unsolved and is classified as a homicide.