After twenty-two years as a prosecutor, I thought that nothing could surprise me.
I was wrong!
Last weekend, Ronald Cummings, the father of Haleigh Cummings— who has been missing since February 10th—popped the question. With family and friends looking on, Cummings, 25, proposed to his 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin, at Chili's restaurant. She said yes. On Monday, Croslin showed off her ring outside of the Putnam County courthouse in Palatka where the couple went to apply for a marriage license.
What the heck?
As you may recall, five-year-old Haleigh was with Croslin on that night a month ago when she was reported missing from her mobile home in Satsuma, Florida. Left to care for Cummings' two children, Croslin put Haleigh to bed around 8:00 p.m. that night in the bedroom that Haleigh shared with her brother, her father, and Croslin herself.
An Amber Alert was issued immediately and a massive search initiated using tracking dogs, sonar equipment, and helicopters. The search revealed nothing. Despite investigating thousands of tips, authorities in Putnam County have made no arrests in the case to date. Intense scrutiny has been focused on a number of registered sex offenders who live within a short distance of the 5,000-member Satsuma community.
The case gained attention from the onset with the national press focusing on tawdry family information as much as Haleigh's disappearance. A 17-year-old girlfriend left to care for her 25-year-old boyfriend's children, and a biological mother who is engaged to her stepbrother all make for great fodder on Internet message boards and TV talk shows.
But this family is certainly fanning the fire with their recent escapades. After begging for donations in the frenzy of media attention, Haleigh's father went out of town last week to have a tattoo of Haleigh inked on his leg. This week, news of an engagement and a ring to accompany the "happy" news have caused people to ask where the money is coming from to fund the tattoo, the ring, and the dinner at Chili's.
The most recent Internet speculation—that the marriage is intended to create a spousal privilege so one spouse cannot be compelled to testify against the other—appears unfounded. Florida statutes do not provide for spousal immunity when it relates to a situation where a child is injured.
So why are they doing it? I don't understand. What is with these people? Where are their priorities? How can Cummings even contemplate getting married while his daughter is missing and possibly dead, or in the hands of a sex offender? You would think that any father would be more focused on getting his daughter back than on proposing to an underage girlfriend who had to drag her mother along to the courthouse to fill out paperwork for the marriage. What is going on here?
Cummings has recently been quoted as saying, "Everybody is probably going to take this marriage thing the wrong way, but it's not."
I don't know what it's "not" but I know what it is. In a word, incomprehensible.Statements made in this post are my own and are not intended to reflect the views, opinions or position of the Muchigan Attorney General or the Michigan Department of Attorney General. Tweet