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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Investigators question girlfriend's story in Haleigh case

The reward for information that leads authorities to missing five-year-old Haleigh Cummings has risen to $16,000. Most of the reward is being offered by an anonymous Putnam County donor, Capt. Dick Schauland of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said at a press conference this afternoon.

Schauland didn't release any new information about the case at the press conference, but said that investigators are continuing to follow up on over 1,200 tips that they have received regarding Haleigh's whereabouts."We certainly hope that she is [alive] and hope's what we've got to live with," Schauland said.

Earlier today, investigators confirmed that they are now questioning whether Misty Croslin lied to law enforcement about her whereabouts the night 5-year old Haleigh Cummings disappeared.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received a tip that Croslin, 17, left the double-wide trailer she shared with Haleigh's father and his 4-year old son, sometime late Feb. 9 or early Feb. 10.

"We have received that tip, they are following up on it," Schauland said during a press conference this morning. Haleigh was last seen by Croslin when the child went to bed Feb. 9. Croslin said she woke around 3 a.m. and found the girl gone.

Haleigh's father, Ronald Cummings, 25, returned home from work about 5 minutes later and alerted authorities On Tuesday, Putnam County Sheriff's officials announced that Haleigh wasn't wearing the pink shirt she was initially described as wearing the night she disappeared.

Investigators say they don't know what she was wearing when she vanished late Feb. 9 or early the 10th from her home 80 miles north of Orlando. "What we need to focus on is the face," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Dominick Pape said as he held up a picture of Haleigh.

Authorities were originally told the 5-year-old was last seen wearing the pink shirt. That's the information they released to the public in the Amber Alert and on missing-person fliers about the girl, who lives in the small town of Satsuma.

On Tuesday, investigators wouldn't discuss details of the pink shirt in their possession -- how they found it, where it was and whether it will be tested for any forensic evidence. "The investigation is not going to change because the clothing is different," Pape said.

So far, officials have received nearly 1,200 tips on the case. One tip led investigators to the St. Johns River earlier in the day but nothing was found. The ground search for the child has ended.On Monday night, authorities stopped more than 200 vehicles at a checkpoint and questioned motorists.

Officials hoped to reach people who were returning to the area and weren't questioned last week. Several people have taken polygraph tests, including Haleigh's father and Croslin.

Investigators would not release information about what those tests showed or comment on whether they still think Croslin is telling the truth.

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