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Relative of Haleigh Cummings challenges Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy to find the girl

8:24 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. -- Haleigh Cummings' great-grandmother has a room dedicated to the missing girl.

"She never leaves my mind," said Annette Sykes as she pointed to Christmas presents she still buys for Haleigh, hoping to give them to her one day.

"It's been four years since she's been gone," Sykes cried.

When then-five-year-old Haleigh disappeared from her Putnam County home in Satsuma in the middle of the night in February 2009, Sheriff Jeff Hardy had just been elected.

"It was my first month in office," he recalled. "I didn't even have business cards, and I had all the national media descend upon Putnam County."

Now, Sykes is challenging Hardy to do more to help find Haleigh.

"I want to know if he didn't find her in those first four years, I challenge him to find her now," Sykes said. "He's got four more years. Is it going to take four years to find out something?"

"The actual challenge is not with the next four years. The actual challenge of finding Haleigh began my 34th day in office, 4 years ago. So I can appreciate the challenge, but the challenge has been there every day," Hardy said.

Sykes said the challenge is not politically motivated.

There are no term limits for the office of Sheriff in Putnam County.

In the last four years, Haleigh's father Ronald Cummings and Haleigh's babysitter, Misty Croslin (who is also Ronald Cummings' former wife), have been arrested and they are now serving prison sentences for drug offenses.

Shortly after her sentencing, Croslin told First Coast News in a jailhouse interview, "I don't know nothing" about what happened to Haleigh.

Hardy said Haleigh's case is still an active investigation, but people involved have to come forward.

"There are people who know what happened out there," Hardy said, "and unfortunately, they're not talking. I would've thought by now some of the situations and some of the places where the individuals are at now -- like state prison -- would be some incentive for them to talk. But they haven't reached out to me. Let's put it this way."

First Coast News' Jessica Clark asked him if he was referring to Haleigh's father and her babysitter, and Hardy responded, "Certainly. Certainly."

It's all frustrating for Sykes, who said she's even questioned Misty Croslin during a prison visit.

With tears in her eyes, Sykes said, "I just want to rip somebody's head off to tell me something, but there's nothing I can do, legally."

So she keeps Haleigh's toys, presents and figurines around her, and she leaves the banner of Haleigh on her fence, hoping that four years later, no one forgets.

First Coast News

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