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Video: Girlfriend of Haleigh’s dad sticks to story

TODAY contributor
updated 2/20/2009 9:46:03 AM ET 2009-02-20T14:46:03

The young woman who was caring for a missing 5-year-old Florida girl continued to maintain she was home all night when Haleigh Cummings vanished, but said she could not rule out the possibility that a male relative from Tennessee was involved in the disappearance.

Misty Croslin, the 17-year-old live-in girlfriend of Haleigh’s father, Ronald Cummings, reported that Haleigh was missing from Cummings’ double-wide home around 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The previous day, an unidentified male relative from Tennessee had left after a visit of an unspecified length. Cummings has denied published reports that he argued with the man about a gun.

‘He’s a criminal’
Among the 1,300 tips collected by investigators was one possible sighting of Haleigh in a car with an adult male and female in Knoxville, Tenn. Police in Knoxville have interviewed the relative Croslin spoke of, but on Friday she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer that she was not convinced the man was not involved in Haleigh’s disappearance.

“I really don’t know. I don’t know if he did [it] or not,” Croslin said, speaking via satellite from Satsuma, Fla. “He’s a criminal. Pretty much he’s been in trouble his whole life. I don’t trust him, no [I] don’t.”

Croslin did not identify the man, nor did she say what her relationship to him is. She is the last person to have seen Haleigh, and she is the person who reported her missing. Inconsistencies have been pointed out in the story she has told investigators, although Croslin has reportedly passed a polygraph test.

On Wednesday, Putnam County, Fla., investigators interviewed her again. Lauer asked what questions she was asked. “They just wanted to go over some stuff with me, pretty much the same thing that they have been going over with me,” she replied without emotion.

‘I was home’
Lauer noted that one tip received by investigators alleged that Croslin was not at home when Haleigh went missing. Croslin has said that she got up to use the bathroom and realized that Haleigh was not in the room she shared with Croslin and her 4-year-old brother. It has also been suggested that Croslin did not call police immediately after she discovered Haleigh missing and the back door of the home, which she said was always locked, propped open with a brick.

Five-year-old Haleigh Cummings was reported missing the morning of Feb. 10.
“I was home. I was home,” she insisted. She said she does not know the exact time when she realized the little girl was not in the house, only that it was after 3 a.m. “I looked at the clock and I seen ‘3.’ I didn’t see the minutes, I just seen ‘3.’ After I looked around the house, called her name, I was on the phone with the cops,” Croslin told Lauer.

Other published reports have said that Croslin waited until Cummings came home sometime after 3 a.m. to tell him Haleigh was missing before calling police.

Whatever the gap, she told Lauer, “It was not a long period of time at all.”

The pink shirt
There are also questions about what Haleigh was wearing. Croslin initially told police she had a pink shirt on, the same shirt she had worn to school on Monday. But she later found the shirt in the laundry. Lauer asked her about that inconsistency.

Misty Croslin joined Haleigh’s father, Ronald Cummings, and others at a nighttime vigil for the missing 5-year-old.
“I was in the house with the detectives,” she said. “And I was looking by the dirty clothes — the clothes that she was wearing earlier in the day for school — and I found that shirt, and I showed the detectives. If I was hiding something, why would I show the cops the shirt?”

Croslin was joined by Haleigh’s paternal grandmother, Teresa Neves. Both stood in front of a large tent in which the family is living because Cummings’ house has been sealed off as a crime scene. Croslin had pictures of Haleigh attached to her jacket, while Neves held a large photo of the girl, showing her blond curls and a distinctive smudgelike birthmark on her left cheek near her ear.

Neves has been supportive of Croslin, but Neves told Lauer she does not object to police questioning the young woman again. “I want the detectives to find my granddaughter. I do not care who they question. We are all available for questioning. All we want is for Haleigh to come home.”

Lauer asked Neves what she thinks happened.

“I think somebody came in the house and took her,” Neves replied. “Who it was I do not know or why they took her, I don’t know, but I do believe that somebody came in the house and took her.”

Lauer asked if she remained confident Haleigh would be found alive.

“Absolutely,” she said. “Absolutely. All we have is hope and prayer.”

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