Florida Abduction Sounds Too Familiar

Like Riley Fox, family says 5-year-old was taken from home during the night

"She's afraid of the dark," the little girl's father said.

So Florida authorities are finding it unlikely that 5-year-old Haleigh Ann-Marie Cummings wandered away from her Satsuma home.

Haleigh was last seen in bed at 10 p.m. Monday in her father's mobile home.

Misty Croslin, the father's 17-year-old girlfriend, told police that when she awoke at 3 a.m. to use the washroom, Haleigh was missing and the back door of the home was open. Investigators said there was no sign of forced entry.

Authorities are now treating the case as an abduction.

Haleigh's father, Ronald Cummings, told police that he came home from work at 3:30 a.m. and is convinced his daughter was kidnapped.

Over 100 personnel from 25 agencies were involved in the search for the girl on Tuesday. Divers scoured the nearby St Johns River, and bloodhounds have searched the neighborhood.

The case is all too reminiscent of the Riley Fox abduction from her home in Wilmington, Ill.

On June 6, 2004, three-year-old Riley went missing sometime during the night.

The entire town of Wilmington helped search for the little girl. Her body was found days later in a creek in the Forsythe Woods, not far from the family's house. She had been sexually assaulted, bound and gagged with duct tape, and drowned.

The Fox residence, like the Cummings', also reportedly showed no signs of forced entry. Detectives interrogated both parents and heavily suspected Kevin Fox, Riley's father. Fox eventually offered a statement admitting the crime. However, he later said the confession was under duress, a result of 14 hours of heavy interrogation.

Fox was charged with first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault. He spent eight months in jail before he was exonerated on DNA evidence.

After the Foxes' lawyer argued that police deliberately ignored evidence of an intruder (much like the detectives in the infamous Jon Benet case), a federal jury awarded the Foxes $15.5 million in damages.

Last Thursday, a judge sealed Kevin Fox's arrest file from the public.

Riley Fox's murder remains unsolved, as investigators in Florida continue to look for young Haleigh Cummings.

Matt Bartosik is the former blogger of The Chicago Traveler and the editor of Off the Rocks' next issue.

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