Thursday, March 12, 2009

Going to the Chapel

by Donna Pendergast

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.

Croslin has told authorities that someone came into the home to take the girl in the middle of the night. She claims to have discovered Haleigh missing when she woke up to go to the bathroom around 3:00 a.m. The back door was found ajar, propped open by bricks. Haleigh's 4-year-old brother, Ronald Jr., later told family members that a man dressed in black came into the mobile home and took Haleigh from her bed.

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.


Levi said...

Donna have you seen her parading around in front of the media with a big smile on her face, showing off her ring and talking about getting married? It makes me sick that she is so giddy.

Someone needs to smack that smile off her face.

Rj said...

Nothing surprises me...I only get slightly amused.

Leah said...

I wondered how he got the money for that ring. It looks like a nice one. I don't understand it either. That's rednecks for ya!

TSquare said...

In youth there is stupidity, but even these dopes should have known to restrain themselves while in the public eye. It appears the parents aren't to bright either. I wonder more now about this abduction

TSquare said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MSLGWCEO said...

This is way too early. Yes youths do stupid things like "sexting," but this is over the top.

The "normal" reaction appears to be missing.

Something stinks here.

Glenn's Cult? said...

If you dig even deeper you will see things like on the 911 call the father called his girlfriend - the under age child - a stupid b****. You can also find how the father got custody of these kids to begin with (by filing paperwork with the courts and sending it to the wrong address on the mother so she would not show up). There was also the time the mother tried to get an injunction against the father and was unable to do so for whatever reason.

I am sure there is much more out there, this is just what has been found on the Internet.

Cold North Wind said...

The whole event leaves me saddened,and even more pessimistic about how our society treats children, and frequently, their mothers. This is all so -pathetic-somehow tawdry and infinitely tragic.

Soobs said...

This is definitely immature behavior. They are to have married TODAY, three days after the "engagement."

It's not like all the players are Mensa members, however.

Cold North Wind said...

Soobs !

Funny ! Sad- but true,I think. Uh-huh- NOT Mensa members.

andy kahan said...


You and me and another rational logical person would think finding your abducted daughter would take priority, but alas this is Florida home of the Casey Anthony Show and now this case.

The National Media should consider at the very least a Satellite Office to handle True Bizarre In-House Crime

Levi said...

Leah it is my understanding it was his grandmothers ring that he didn't purchase a new one.

But a wedding costs money, wouldn't any money being spent on a wedding be put to better use to create a search team or hire a private investigator?

Levi said...

Andy, I don't think Florida is any different than any state in regards to true crime. I think the sunshine laws in Florida give more information to the media.

Also when I was an avid Court TV viewer before they changed to Tru-TV, most of the trials on Court TV came from Florida, because they allowed cameras in most of the time.

It is my understanding that in Florida that if any party objects to a camera in the court room, the burden is on them to prove WHY a camera should be banned.

But it does seem like Florida is replacing California in regards to high profile cases.

O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, Robert Blake, Michael Jackson, were all in California.

Anonymous said...

I think they are doing it because EVERNTUALLY someone was going to get around to charging him with Stat Rape.

Leah said...

Charges aren't happening for stat rape because she is over 16.

katfish said...

My gut says this was done for two possible reasons:
1. To prepare for a custody dispute over Junior. Bio mom has made some pretty strong accusations against Ronald then hires an attorney....I see a court fight real soon.
2. To keep the media spotlight on Haleigh/them.

OK,4 reasons although I'm sure there are more:
3. major immaturity
4. and this is their STATED reason for the wedding....3 and 5 year old kids said at some time wistfully gee, Dad we wish you would marry this girl who you brought home 6 mths ago?????? That's a very mature and responsible reason to marry 3 days into an engagement....ya think?

I do feel sorry that Haleigh is missing but this is just DUMB!

Anonymous said...

Leah - The age of consent in Florida is 18, but close in age exemptions exist. By law, the exception permits an adult younger than 24 to engage in legal sexual activity with a minor aged 16 or 17

The guy is 25 - he is most definitely eligible for stat rape charges.

Leah said...

Anon - that applies to just about every state however, chapter 743.066 allows a provision for minors over 16 in Florida who have been emancipated - several ways this happens. Most states have a similar provision.

California Girl said...

Besides the things other posters have noted, another scary thing is that at 17 and 25, these two have plenty of time to reproduce, pass on their terrific genes, have more children to live in poverty and bait for child molesters.

Anonymous said...

Leah, she wasnt emancipated. Her mother had to sign papers for her to get married. Like I said, he was breaking the law and it was only a matter of time before someone acted on it.

They arent very likeable. I also think thats why the story changed about where she was sleeping.

Glenn's Cult? said...

I think what really gets me is that people are jumping all over the bio-mom and she hasn't even seen Hayleigh now in almost 2 months, whereas the rest of HIS family including the underaged girlfriends it has only been a month. And the press (starting with Nacy Grace) has been quick to persecute Crystal Sheffield.

At least Ms. Sheffield was honest about her shortcomings. At least she admitted she got help and wants to be a better parent for hayleigh and Junior. Let's hope it is not too late.

And in digging into this story, Misty has a Myspace page (if needed or wanted by anyone on here contact me through email) and she attacks another "underage" ex of her now husband. On that young woman's Myspace page, she states b---- I got ur man and I will get ur baby too. She then comments on the main page of this young lady's site with more foul language and slander by accusing this young lady of anything and everything.

It is really quite bizarre. I am off work on Monday, I plan to showcase this filth on my site :-)

Just another reason why men who have been alleged to have comitted domestic abuse should not have custody of the children involved. Sadly these children would have been better off in state custody until either mom or dad could have cleaned up their act.

Leah said...

So why aren't they going after him for Stat rape?? I don't understand that at all.

Glenn's Cult? said...

They are not going after him for stat rape because Florida is one of "those" states. Men can get away with murder (or close) and they are still allowed to retain custody. This is how nearly all states are now. Just do a search for the two babies who were "microwaved". The mom who did this is serving 25 years+, the dad only 10. Dads who lock their kids in a car on a hot summer day do not even get indicted, moms get indicted and sentenced in less than a year.

I have tracked this stuff for over 5 years now.