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Balloons Released to Mark Haleigh Cummings' 7th Birthday; Croslin Pleads 'No Contest' in SJC

5:34 PM, Aug 17, 2010   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Strangers, friends and family, led by the grandmother of missing girl Haleigh Cummings released balloons into the air today to commemorate the girl's seventh birthday.

"She'll come home...absolutely," she said. "Even though she's not here, we're celebrating her life...I know wherever she is, she's thinking about us, and we're thinking about her," said Teresa Neves.

Neves is the mother of Ronald Cummings, Haleigh's father. The 5-year-old girl vanished in Feb. 2009 while Cummings' now-ex-wife was babysitting her.

Neves spoke on behalf of her son, who is in jail. She said he hasn't been doing well lately and is depressed.

Haleigh was born at 2:16 a.m. Aug. 17, 2003. The group released the balloons at 2:16 p.m. in her honor.

Diena Thompson, the mother of Somer Thompson who was kidnapped and killed after school in October, attended the ceremony. She said she was there for support, and knows the pain of a birthday for an absent child.

Also today, Haleigh's seventh birthday, the last person known to have seen her stood before a judge to face a drug trafficking charge.

Cumming's ex-wife Misty Croslin withdrew her plea of "not guilty" and entered a plea of "no contest," which Judge Wendy Berger clarified as meaning Croslin is "admitting the truth of the charge."

In January, Croslin, along with Haleigh's father and three other people, was arrested on several drug trafficking charges.

For her plea to the oxycodone trafficking charge in St. Johns County she will face a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years and a $500,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Oct. 8.

Haleigh's mother, Crystal Sheffield, was in court this morning, saying she wanted to see Croslin's face on her daughter's birthday.

She also said she believes Croslin is responsible for Haleigh's disappearance. Tearing up as she spoke, she said, "Happy birthday, Haleigh, wherever you are."

Sheffield said she believes her daughter is still alive.

Monday, Croslin entered a "no contest" plea to seven charges in Putnam County.  Her sentence, which could be up to 240 years on those charges, will be determined in October.

Her attorney, Robert Fields, has indicated he will try to get her sentenced as a youthful offender, meaning her sentence would likely be closer to six years.

Earlier this year, Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy told Haleigh's family to prepare for the likelihood that she is dead, though the investigation is continuing.

If you know anything about Haleigh Cummings' whereabouts, call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS (8477).  You will remain anonymous, and there is a reward of more than $30,000 being offered.

RELATED: NEW DETAILS EMERGE IN HALEIGH'S DISAPPEARANCE

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