Detectives: Missing Florida Girl Was Kidnapped, Family Members and 'All the World' Are Suspects

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Published February 12, 2009

| FoxNews.com

Florida detectives say they believe a 5-year-old girl who vanished from her bed Tuesday morning was abducted — and they aren't overlooking anyone, including family members, as suspects.

Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings reportedly vanished from her bed before dawn Tuesday.

The child's father, Ronald Cummings, said in an interview with FOX News' Greta Van Susteren that his girlfriend Misty Croslin, 17, was watching his daughter while he was at work as a crane operator.

Haleigh had gotten up to use the bathroom, according to Cummings. When she didn't return, Croslin went to look for her and noticed the back door was open.

"I locked doors before I left for work. My child cannot unlock the deadbolt, you have to force the door shut all the way ... and she doesn’t open the door to strangers," Cummings said.

Croslin and Cummings called 911 after discovering the girl was missing, according to the police report. The tapes were released Wednesday.

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Putnam County Sheriff's spokesman Gary Bowling said Croslin, Cummings and the child's mother, Crystal Sheffield, as well as several others have been questioned in the case. Police have given them all the chance to take lie detector tests.

"It is never safe to say that a family member is not a suspect," Bowling said during a press conference. "However, all the world is a suspect right now."

Investigators conducted a second day of ground and air searches Wednesday for Haleigh.

"This child didn't voluntarily walk out of her home. If she did, someone took her," Bowling said earlier.

Cummings, who has custody of Haleigh and her brother Junior, said his daughter was scared of the dark and would not wander off.

"Somebody stole my child," he said. "Trust me when I tell you that I know my child."

Sheffield's mother, Marie, told Van Susteren that the children seemed to be doing well living with their father.

"Haleigh told us they’ve been hit, and stuff like that, but to this point, everything was fine," Marie Sheffield said.

Police had never been called to the home in the past — but there have been prior problems with Cummings, Croslin and the children, Putnam County Capt. Steve Rose said.

"There have been some investigations done through the department of children and family," Rose told FOX News on Wednesday. He didn't elaborate.

There were still no firm leads in the case, despite police interviews with Cummings, Croslin and sex offenders in the area.

Investigators say Croslin is now with her family, but they're not calling her a suspect nor are they revealing whether the child's father is a focus of the investigation.

"I don't know that for sure," Putnam County Sheriff's Sgt. Jason Nettles told FOXNews.com on Tuesday.

Haleigh's grandfather, Johnny Sheffield, said he was distraught about the girl's disappearance and characterized Croslin as suspicious, though he admitted he didn't know much about her, according to MyFOXOrlando.com.

Cummings said his girlfriend was awake and frantic after she found Haleigh was gone.

But in the police report, obtained by FOX News, Cummings reportedly told officers that his "dumb bitch girlfriend" told him Haleigh was gone when he got home from work.

"Ronald said that he did not know what Haleigh was wearing, and that all he knew was that the back door was standing open. Ronald repeatedly said that someone had taken his child and also said 'When I find him I'll kill him,'" police wrote in the report.

He referred to a 9mm Beretta handgun he owns and said if authorities found his daughter's kidnapper, "he would shoot them through the back window of the patrol car," the police report said.

Detectives wrote that they followed a path that led behind the home and found what appeared to be a child's footprint in the dirt, though Cummings said his daughter's shoes were in the house.

Nettles told FOXNews.com that the hunt for Haleigh got under way Wednesday morning, with more helicopter searches as well as more on the ground using K-9 units.

Deputies say they have questioned 44 registered sex offenders who live within five miles of Haleigh's home, according to MyFOXOrlando.com.

Nettles said he couldn't confirm whether authorities were worried a sex offender might have abducted Haleigh.

"I don't think they've ruled anything out," he told FOXNews.com on Tuesday.

An air conditioner repair man who was at the home on Monday was questioned after police found out about his house call but cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Local and state authorities and the FBI searched for Haleigh in neighbors' homes and vehicles leaving her neighborhood on the St. Johns River, as well as in the nearby river and woods for signs of the girl. The effort lasted through the night Tuesday.

Investigators are asking for the public's help. Leads have been minimal, according to authorities.

Crystal Sheffield made a tearful plea about her little girl on TV news Tuesday night.

"I just want to say, 'Bring her back home. Please,'" Sheffield said.

Sheffield told Van Susteren the children "loved Croslin," who she says Cummings was dating for four to six months.

"I’ve talked to her, she seemed like a really nice person, but I never sat down and had a conversation with her," Sheffield said.

Rose said Sheffield doesn't live in the area but traveled to Putnam County after she learned of her daughter's disappearance and has been interviewed.

"She is cooperating," Rose told FOX News.

The family held a candlelight vigil Tuesday night and said they plan to continue with the vigils until the child comes home.

Haleigh is 3 feet tall with blond hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and underwear.

Anyone with information about the girl is urged to contact the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at (386) 329-0800 or 911.

Click here for more on this story from MyFOXOrlando.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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