Archive for October, 2011
Once that ocean salt is in your blood, no matter how hard you try, you cannot resist the call of the sea.
We started the day with breakfast at the Sea Gull restaurant. This place reminds me of the Florida long gone. It is not some fast food chain or an eatery that needs to move people in and out to maximize profits, but a place where you can relax, enjoy a Florida breakfast from grits or pigs-in-a-blanket to steak and eggs, with everything in between. And best of all, the staff knows your name.
Did I mention that I am the only male in the office? Some days that’s a good thing, and some days, not the best.
After discussing P&L statements, spreadsheets, new products, upcoming conventions, and credit courses we need to complete before the end of the year, we broke to go to the conference room. Most corporations have a long wooden table, a credenza with glasses and a silver pitcher of water, and big cushy chairs on casters. Not us. We rented a room at the Sand Dune Shores Resort on Singer Island. A mom and pop motel tucked between two sky-high hotels. Sand Dune (www.sandduneshoresresort.com) has a private pool, ocean views, and no crowds.
Gathered around the metal dinette table and knee-high coffee table we slugged through the agenda. The upcoming week the staff is sponsoring a dinner and seminar for the local dentists. Many things had to be decided, dress code, handouts, videos, Powerpoints, and blah blah blah. The discussion started to hurt my brain.
But outside, a cool front had moved in. The air temperature dropped to the mid-80′s, the surf hovered around 82 to 84, and we had a picnic basket we hadn’t opened yet. And with her great wisdom, Dr. Marino moved the meeting outside.
On the beach we discussed the important things in life, like why can’t we just set up the hygiene chairs here in the sand.
Just a quick note.
Grace, Barb, LFJ and everyone else,
There are lots of Steve’s in the world. Lots of Steve Browns. Also lots of Graces, Barbs, etc.
So if there is a case of mistaken identity, so be it. I have an accountant whose name is John Smith. We use to own a boat together and sometimes traveled together. When we checked into the hotel, I gave my name as Steve Brown and he gave his as John Smith. The clerk always gave us a funny look and thought we were up to no good. So if there’s been a case of mistaken identity on this blog, please just let it go. I’m all for spirited debate, but please no name calling etc.
I am open to all theories about Haleigh. As we proceed, you’ll see what facts I am certain about concerning the night Haleigh disappeared and what is maybe not so certain. There are those that believe she is alive, but can’t show us a live body, and there are those that believe she is deceased but can’t show us a dead body. So there you go.
As I mentioned in the comment section, I continue to work this case because I think I can “bring Haleigh Home.” I just need the resources and time to do it.
Please, let’s all play nice. We have some terrific researchers here who read this blog. I am very impressed with are of your abilities to recall the facts concerning this investigation before I became involved in it. And I’m also impressed with your abilities to find links and facts.
Maybe we could all work together somehow to bring this case to a conclusion. Hmm, have to think about that.
Where was Haleigh When She Disappeared?
I think the following blog post will upset a number of theorists as to what really happened to Haleigh, and where it happened. I know there is a contingent out there that believe Haleigh was not at the mobile home when she was murdered/taken. But she was. To show you my reasoning on this I’ll begin with who picked up Haleigh at the bus stop.
First, a disclaimer. I am reproducing here material that was transcribed by my secretary, a recorded statement between Chelsea Croslin and myself. I believe Chelsea to be telling the truth but I assume no liability for any of her words or accusations concerning others and their behaviors.
I was not at the bus stop so certainly I don’t have any first hand knowledge of what transpired there. It is really unimportant as you’ll see later but let’s clear up what we can as we go along.
I spent some time speaking with Chelsea Croslin on this very topic and have no reason to believe she was attempting to mislead me, She appeared truthful in every detail. She had no reason not to be. There would have been no reason for her to do so because of information that put Haleigh at the mobile home on Green Lane later in the day.
I took a recorded statement from Chelsea as we rode from the Jacksonville Airport where I picked her up in my car, and transported her to Palatka where she was to pick up Hank’s and Lisa’s car which had been impounded. Both Hank and Lisa were in jail, their rent was due, and their belongings were going to be put out on the curb where they had been residing. This trip gave us plenty of time to talk and I spent the better part of the day with Chelsea.
I think to understand the relationships between Ron, Timmy, Tommy, Chelsea, Lisa, Hank, Misty, Grandma Sykes, Terresa Neves, you’ll need to read more of the interview I had with Chelsea. I’m not going to put the entire interview up at this time as it’s 34 pages long, but I will post a potion that deals with the “wild-weekend” before Haliegh disappeared.
Chelsea: Amber Brooks, yep. So, Misty and Amber had been talking and I had been friends with Amber, an associate of you know because it was Misty’s friend I was always try to be nice to whoever Misty was friends with. Because if you weren’t then Misty would take off with them. You know, so you always had to get along with whoever Misty got along with. Misty is leader, not a follower. She always has been. Um, she, I remember when the baby, when Ronald’s son, Jordan was only two weeks old, Ronald kidnapped Jordan. And he took him for a week. And the whole time I was on Amber’s side. I didn’t know Ronald or I just believed everything Amber told me. He was a woman beater. He beat her. He was older. He took advantage of her. He had this child with her. You know, now he stole her child. So me and Lindsey were called the police. We called Putnam County police every single day for days straight. Reporting a missing child. We wanted to know, you know, for them to find Jordan. For them to bring Jordan back. You know, Amber was the biological mother. Well they said that you know Ronald was the biological father and unless he crossed state lines or unless there was proof of foul play they weren’t going to even look into it. So they never acknowledged it. So then eventually a few months later Misty and Amber weren’t talking and they weren’t friends.
Steve: Was that Palatka Police Department, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office too?
Chelsea: Um, I know that we called like we called actually both, Putnam County Sheriff and we called the Flagler County because in Flagler County it’s different rules. The biological mother no mater what unless you are married is who is in charge of the child.
Steve: Has custody, right.
Chelsea: So that is why we called them to try and get them to pull their rights out in Palatka, Putnam County and come help us get Jordan back for Amber. Um, you know, but eventually she ended up getting her son back whenever she got along with Ronald again. She got her kid back, um about a week later. And a few months went by and Misty and Amber had argued over some stupid stuff, clothes or something and they quit being friends. So which was a relief to all of us because Amber was just like a junky little girl. She wasn’t somebody we wanted Misty hanging out with anyways. But, so we got, you know, she got out of the picture. Um, me and Misty were, I remember Misty the first time I ever seen Ronald, Misty said, I’ve been talking to this boy, she said, and um, I was talking to him on the phone at the bus stop and I look over and there’s a guy sitting on his hood of his car and he’s looks like he’s saying everything that he is saying to me on the phone. So Misty rolled down the window and said, “Are we talking to each other?” And Ronald said, “ Oh my god, you’re Misty?” and then they met at the bus stop. But they were talking over the phone because they had been talking about Amber and stuff like that. So they end up meeting at the bus stop. And she didn’t want me, anybody to know who he was. She brings me to the bus stop one day and she tells me not to get out of the car but look that’s Ronald right there and I was like OK, he’s kinda cute. How old is he? And she says, he’s nineteen. And she is sixteen. And I’m like OK, you know, don’t tell your brothers that, but make him eighteen in Tommy and Tim’s eyes, you know make him just turned eighteen. That’s not too bad, they won’t be too angry about that. So, that didn’t work right off the bat Misty slipped up and said nineteen just like she did to me so the boys believe that Ronald was nineteen in the beginning.
Steve: So how old was he really?
Steve: And Misty was?
Chelsea: Um, so they believed it in the beginning. So then he, Tim started telling me that there is no way, first of all this kid’s always got beer. He is buying alcohol and liquor. I’m like all right honey, he is twenty-one, I just didn’t want to tell you. I was like we knew that um, you would get mad. Tim was like whatever. You know they were dating. As long as he is nice to my sister and he goes and he talks to Ronald and he tells him, you know, look you know I just found out you are twenty-one and Ronald says no, today is my twenty-sixth birthday. So Tim goes really you’re twenty-six and you are with my sixteen year old sister that’s a big difference, you know, he’s like, you know I mean, you have to take care of my sister, like don’t you know be taking advantage of her. Ronald’s all no, no, no. Ronald played the sweetest guy in the world in the beginning. He spoiled Misty. He put her on a pedestal. He made her feel like the princess of the world. That’s why she wanted to be with him. Because he took care of her. He bought her clothes. He made her feel special. Her and Haleigh would get matching shoes and matching clothes and Misty felt apart of a family. Almost something I guess that she had always wanted. You know, to feel apart of something. So, she became apart of it. And Ronald and her were talking about they were gonna have a kid together and they were gonna make it a whole family and you know to intertwine Haleigh and Junior with their child. And then they wanted; Ronald starts talking about fighting for custody for Jordan and all this crazy stuff you know. Then they eventually after about two months of dating it was more Misty stayed for the kids because she loved Junior and she loved Haleigh. Ronald at that point had turned into a control freak. He was never around because he was at work. And when he was off work he wasn’t around because he was out with his dad’s biker gang or whoever those people are that live behind the big fence. Um, they’ve got like this whole club. Like a bike club or something behind a big privacy fence. And they’ve got like security and stuff to check you in. Ronald’s dad I guess is like some big time person. I don’t know who he is but Lester I mean I know him, I don’t know about his life or what this secret club is that they have. But, um, Ronald would always be over there. He would be drinking or he would just be out high and you know it got to the point where he was always on pills. He was just like nodding in and out. He was becoming an embarrassment for Misty to even have around everybody. She was like, this sucks really, you know. I got this guy that basically I’m his live-in babysitter and his use for sex and that’s it. That’s all he ever wanted out of her so Misty broke up with him like four times. Kept trying to leave but he would always send Granny or Teresa over or send the kids up to the door to draw her back in. So, I mean I remember one day Haleigh and Granny was in the driveway and Haleigh was at the front door and she was going come on Misty, come on, come outside. And I was like, Haleigh just come in here, she was sick. Misty was…
Steve: Now was this your place?
Chelsea: Lindsey’s house.
Steve: On Tyler Lane?
Chelsea: On Tyler yeah. She was Misty was pretending to be sick. She didn’t want to go babysit the kids and Granny was trying to make them and Misty was in the bathroom pretending to puke and Haleigh was going your not puking, your not puking, I can hear you. She’s like come out here. I don’t want to be with Granny, I want to be with you Misty. So when Misty would hear that, that’s a soft spot. She would give in. She would be like ok. And she would go right back to the kids and deal with whatever Ronald’s drama was. And that was how it was the weekend before. Misty had officially left the weekend before. Taken all of her stuff out. What was left Ronald had gone and thrown in Nana’s front yard. Made a huge scene. You know was blowing her phone up all weekend long. Misty was ignoring him. She obviously had met Greg. And started dating Greg that weekend.
Steve: What do you know about that weekend?
Chelsea: Well, I did see them that one night.
Steve: Now are we talking about the wild weekend before…?
Chelsea: The wild weekend before Haleigh went missing, yes. She left on a Thursday. I had a huge part in that, I mean I was the one who was like, just go, you know there is no reason, I got her to get away from him. Go hang out with Nay Nay and everybody. You guys are gonna go have fun. So she gets away and she ends up meeting Greg.
I did have a bad feeling about something she was doing because I did go to Lisa’s house over by Shell Bluff. Um, me and Lisa did and Hank was already in the hospital at that point and um we went over there just to get some clothes and when we got there Misty and Nay Nay and everybody was taking showers at the house and they were all getting all dressed up. And I heard one of girls and there was a girl named Lindsey that was with them. She said something about we are going to work. So I pulled Lisa in the bedroom and I said, “Lili”. I said, “Lili did you hear what that little girl just said?” “They are taking showers.” “They are getting clean.” “They are getting dressed pretty and they are going to work.” I was doesn’t that sound like hooking? Like prostitution? I mean, go out there and find out what your daughter is doing. I wanted to like figure out what was going on without putting Misty on the spot because then Misty would run and never talk to me again if I made a big scene in front of all of her friends. So then Lili just started freaking out and she was like everybody get out of my house. And just kicked everybody out of the house. And um, you know then we didn’t even know that Misty was back with Ronald. I was at, I seen Haleigh get off the bus that day. I was there. I didn’t know anybody was gonna be there. I hadn’t talked to Misty.
Steve: This was on Friday, then?
Chelsea: Um, no by Monday.
Steve: Oh, Monday?
Chelsea: The last day that anybody had seen her.
Steve: Who picked up Haleigh?
Chelsea: Ronald. It was the purple car; its fully tinted windows and all windows were rolled up. Um, I was in the van. I saw his car parked there. I pulled the van, Lindsey’s van directly next to Ronald’s car. I had my daughter Destiny in the car with me and I was like, she was like Uncle Ronald yelling at him. And he was not acknowledging her. And um, so I get out of the car and I sit on the hood and I’m smoking a cigarette trying to see if maybe that’s what Ronald usually does is get out of the car and wait like everyone else. He wouldn’t get out of the car and so Haleigh gets off the bus and she comes running off and her and her Austin, my nephew come running off the bus. And Haleigh is all happy and has got a big smile on her face. And she has her backpack in her hand and she is running and she is like Hi Destiny and Destiny is like hi Haleigh, screaming at her. Haleigh is like, Destiny is like, um, are you gonna come play with me? And Haleigh is like, yeah, later on, I love you, (smooch) and blew her a kiss. And stuck her hands around her face and cupped her hands around her eyes and stuck her head up against the passenger side of Ronald’s car…
Steve: Now this is Haleigh?
Chelsea: Yes, Haleigh looked in the car and whatever she saw got her super excited. She jumps in the back seat of the car and they bolt.
Steve: So you think Misty was in the car?
Chelsea: I think Misty was in the car. So she must have been like yeah, Misty is home. You know after the whole weekend of not seeing her, Misty came home. Because, it was just weird. I, I, just how she just looked into the window. And seen her and she jumped into the backseat and she was all happy. You know that was the last time that I ever seen Haleigh, just, you know happy. So at least I can say that part, you know. But, so she obviously knew that Haleigh, that Misty was in the car. So, (phone ringing) (laughing) um, so Haleigh and Ronald and Misty and all of them left by the time I make it back to the bus stop I’m super mad or back from the bus stop to the house I’m mad …
Steve: At Misty?
Chelsea: …at Ronald.
Steve: Oh, ok.
Chelsea: I’m mad because I didn’t know that Misty was in the car. I’m mad at Ronald because he didn’t let Junior get out and play with Destiny. He didn’t acknowledge me. He didn’t, you know, he had owed Tim twenty dollars, I’m like is that the whole reason over twenty dollars you are gonna make Haleigh not talk to Destiny if they haven’t seen each other? In four or five days, I mean that’s a long time for the kids. They were used to being together twenty-four seven. So I go home and I’m mad. I’m like, Tim you’d better you know go talk to Ronald, blah, blah, blah. I start flipping out. And he is like, calm down, don’t worry about it. I’ll stop him when he comes out. So I go back inside with Austin and I’m pulling out his thing to check his schoolbook and see how he did that day. Because Austin sometimes gets sad faces and that is when he would have to do homework and go in his room. So I was in there with Austin and I come outside and I was like are you not going to go talk to Ronald. And he is like I just saw Ronald; look I have my twenty dollars. I was like so who was in the car with him? And he was like, just Ronald. And I was like why was Haleigh so excited and Tim was like what are you talking about? I was like, I don’t know. She was all excited and stuck her hands on the window. I was like who was there? Tim was like I don’t know. So he calls Misty’s cell phone. Misty answers the phone or Misty ignores the phone the first few times that he calls. Me and Tim leave the neighborhood to go home and Misty calls back as we’re already pulling out of Buffalo Bluff. And she is like; I’m down here at Ronald’s house. Tim is like, why are you there? You know, what are you doing? Why would you go back? And I’m like in the passenger seat and I’m yelling at her through the phone and you know I guess her excuse was Ronald said he had no body to watch the kids and he needed somebody to babysit them. Misty told him she didn’t want to. She was too tired. She had a long weekend. And he said, you know they weren’t together. But just, you know could you do this for the kids?
—-End of this portion of transcript.—
So I don’t think there is any doubt that Haleigh and Misty were at the mobile home at 202 Green Lane on February 9, 2009.
Subsequently, both Misty and Tommy told me individually and together that Tommy was at the mobile home late afternoon of February 9 when the A/C repairman was there. Ronald had left for work and Misty and Tommy were smoking a joint either on the front porch or under the tree in front of the house. Again they had no reason to lie about this. While I don’t have access to the interview of the A/C guy performed by the PCSO my sources there also tell me this is true.
Specificity in details is often an indicator of the truth. In my investigative experience, when an informant tells you that there is a kilo of cocaine located in someone’s house. Well that’s one thing. But when that informant says there is a kilo of cocaine, and it’s in the bottom drawer in the kitchen under a blue kitchen towel, well those specific details make their story much more believable. This is also a fact of law considered when issuing search warrants.
Tommy told me that Haleigh was doing wheelies on her big wheel out in the front yard. Tommy also told me that the A/C guy did not use the back/side door. Apparently the A/C man told the PCSO the same thing. Corroboration in specific details again is an indicator of factual events.
In all of my investigation, I have seen no indication that Haleigh was anyplace other than at 202 Green Lane on February 9 until she was taken from that residence. I know this conclusion is upsetting to those that believe she was someplace else when she was murdered/abducted. But that’s the breaks.
We have been receiving hundreds of spams a day on this site so we found if necessary to add the “NuCaptcha” at the comment sections to prove that you are really a person when adding comments. I don’t think you will find it too inconvenient and it should save us hours a day weeding through the comments.
Our guest blogger today is Lisa Black. Lisa’s fourth book Defensive Wounds was released by Harper Collins on September 27. Forensic scientist Theresa MacLean battles a serial killer operating at an attorney’s convention. Lisa is a full time latent print examiner and CSI for a police department in Florida.
Lisa is talking about Luminol and BlueStar Forensics. I actually used BlueStar in the Haleigh Cummings case and will blog on that next week.
There are several color tests for the presence of blood. We used to use a benzidine test…except that benzidine turned out to be carcinogenic. Oops. Hemastix test strips are a less specific but terrifically convenient, but most departments use phenolphthalein, which requires dropping three different reagents on the cotton swab to get a pink color (and please don’t touch the tip of the bottle to the swab and contaminate the rest of the bottle like they do on TV all the time!!!…sorry, pet peeve there). Amido black does a wonderful job of staining fingerprints in blood so that they’re easier to see. But making blood glow in the dark requires a different set of reagents.
Blood does not naturally fluoresce under ultraviolet light, like semen does, so turning on a black light won’t do a thing for you except make any blood stain darker instead of lighter. To get it to glow, you have to spray on either luminol or Bluestar, and then you don’t need the UV light. In older episodes of Law and Order you might see their crime scene staff spray fluorescein and then use a UV light, but this technique has been largely supplanted by the more convenient luminol.
Luminol is a presumptive test for blood, meaning that a positive reaction means the sample might be blood, but could also be horseradish, feces, and bleach-based cleansers, among other things. Bluestar is luminol-based, but more sensitive and with longer-lasting luminescence. Neither will destroy DNA, so bloodstains found with these reagents can still be analyzed. They will not stain or damage surfaces or upholstery.
On television, of course, the sexy CSIs will flick off the light and spray. Hah. If only it were that easy. The fluorescing blood is easier to see the darker it is. I don’t mean dark like turning off the lights. I mean dark like taping blankets and garbage bags over the windows, taping over standby lights on any electronics present, putting a towel over the crack under the door, renting a self-storage unit just to examine a vehicle. I mean dark like can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. I mean dark like spending an hour to prepare for thirty seconds of spraying. You know, dark.
Coincidentally, my character encounters this very situation in Defensive Wounds when she has to follow a blood trail through a very fancy hotel—to the dismay of the concierge.