Haleigh Cummings vs. Adji Desir

Haleigh Cummings and Adji Desir were both children about the same age (she was five, he was six) who disappeared from southern Florida early this year. Adji disappeared while playing outside on January 10. Haleigh disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night on February 9. Haleigh’s case has got a ton of publicity, Adji’s very little.

A lot of people, bloggers etc., are saying it has to do with race. Haleigh was a blonde, blue-eyed white girl. Adji was a black, Haitian boy. An Amber Alert was issued in Haleigh’s case, but not in Adji’s, even though in neither instance did the police have any hard evidence that they were abducted. Some people are saying the only difference is that Adji was black. I don’t think so, though. There are in fact significant differences between the cases which go a long way towards explaining why Haleigh got an Amber and more publicity.

To begin with, Haleigh disappeared from her bed in the middle of the night. Adji disappeared during the daylight hours as he played outside. A kid who vanishes from her bed overnight is much more likely to have been abducted than a kid who disappears during the day while outside. Couple that with the fact that Adji is pretty seriously mentally disabled, and I can see why the police thought there was a good chance he just wandered off. (What I want to know is why his grandmother let him play outside alone, given that he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old and can’t talk. Oh well. Too late to do anything about that now.)

Adji lived in a primarily Haitian community. Both his parents are Haitian and his dad actually lives in Haiti. I think that would be a barrier as far as press attention is concerned. If Adji’s loved ones didn’t speak English well, or if they were simply uncomfortable with American reporters prying into their lives, there’s going to be less information about him, and thus, less articles. The Cummings family has been very open to the press — maybe a bit too much so, even, as they seem to use the news against one another. Also, their soap-operaish antics (custody battle and nasty allegations between Haleigh’s parents, Dad’s underage girlfriend, Dad putting a decapitated rat in his brother-in-law’s mailbox) make for interesting reading, though they detract from Haleigh herself.

So you see it’s not just skin color.

Some activity in the Haleigh Cummings case

The police now believe Haleigh Cummings was kidnapped by someone she knew, according to this Orlando Sentinel article. They haven’t ruled out her father’s girlfriend, Misty Croslin, as a suspect and they think she may be withholding information. Misty, who was only seventeen years old, was watching Haleigh and her brother the night the little girl disappeared. Both the girl’s parents have been ruled out as suspects though. Her dad was working and her mom was living in Georgia.

I think Haleigh is probably dead, but beyond that I haven’t a clue what happened to her. Her parents sound like they tried to do the best they could for their kids, which doesn’t make them good parents, but I don’t believe they harmed her. I don’t know about Misty. I suppose time will tell.

Additional articles:
Fox News
Palatka Daily News
WJXT Jacksonville
First Coast News
The Gainesville Sun

Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings

I spent considerable time today wading through articles writing up the case of five-year-old Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings, which I plan to post tomorrow. She’s been missing from Florida since February; disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night. The case has gotten a lot of media attention due to Haleigh’s blonde cuteness and due to the mudslinging in her family.

There has been a lot of criticism of Haleigh’s dad, Ronald, and his seventeen-year-old girlfriend (now wife) Misty Croslin. Misty was the last person to see Haleigh before she disappeared. There are reports that she wasn’t even in the trailer when Haleigh vanished, that she’d gone out and left Haleigh and her brother alone. She denies this. Ronald has been criticized for cohabiting with a minor, and both of them were criticized for getting married a month after Haleigh disappeared. Ronald’s ex, Haleigh’s mom, has accused Ronald of child abuse and neglect. It’s worth noting that Ronald had had custody of both their children for years and the mother, Crystal Sheffield, only saw them every other weekend. Ronald says Haleigh’s mother hasn’t been employed in a long time, is behind on her child support and has abused drugs. Sheffield says Ronald was abusive to her during their relationship and abused the children after he got custody. (Curiously, she never went to the DCF with her allegations until some weeks after Haleigh disappeared.) For what it’s worth, Ronald’s been arrested a few times on minor drug charges, but usually the cases were dropped or he got deferred adjudication.

As for the police, they’re not saying much. They won’t say whether Ronald and Misty passed their polygraphs. (They say they did.) They won’t say whether they believe Misty’s story. They do say no one has been ruled out as a suspect at this point but they’re not focusing on any one person right now. I think they’re doing the best they can.

To make matters even muddier, I’ve never seen so confusing and inconsistent reporting. It was like every article told a different story about the events of February 9 – 10. I’m not sure how much of the inconsistencies are actually Misty’s (another thing she’s been criticized for), and how much are the journalists’.

And for me…I have no idea what happened to Haleigh. Not a clue. Not even a theory. It’s all up in the air right now. But I do think the media has been excessively harsh on Misty and Ronald. Recent events have made me very reluctant to criticize or judge a reported crime victim based on their post-crime behavior (i.e. the sudden marriage).

I don’t think I have any problem with Misty having charge of the children, either, just because of her age. A lot of people are like “his UNDERAGE girlfriend” and “the children were being looked after by a MINOR.” Um, Misty was less than one year from her majority, at an age where many girls have their own kids, and she’d been living away from her parents for some time. She was 17, not 12, and there’s no real difference between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old except the legal one. The tendency of people these days to assume a teenager is completely helpless and incapable of being responsible for anything seriously disturbs me. (For more about that, read The Case Against Adolescence by Robert Epstein or Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine. Both of them are very good.)

But getting back to Haleigh: whatever happened, I hope the police figure it out soon and Haleigh comes home, one way or another. I don’t like it when little children vanish without a trace and are missing long enough to wind up on my website.