Exclusive: Art Harris Interviews Lisa Croslin, Spring, 2009: Misty Called Her First
By Art Harris, The Bald Truth, (c) www.artharris.com, all rights reserved
Within hours of Ronald Cummings sentencing Friday, The Bald Truth has learned Misty Croslin began to crack under relentless police questioningâ€”and changed her story again.
Family members and sources close to the case tell me Croslin now claims she lied about her allegation that cousin Joe Overstreet snatched Haleigh to cover up yet another horror even closer to home. During her four hour interrogation Friday, The Bald Truth learned exclusively that Misty Croslin now claims it was her own brother, Tommy Croslin, who came to the trailer that night, took Haleigh and fabricated the cousin Joe-machine gun story.
Then, my sources say, she told police Tommy pressured her to go along with it.
Her attorney, Robert Fields, confirmed she met with investigators, but declined to comment further.
“She told me she kept telling the police if they wanted to know what really happened, they had to get Tommy to talk, that he can tell them everything,” her mother, Lisa Croslin, told The Bald Truth after speaking with Misty.
Sources close to the family and the investigation tell me tell me it was about 1:30 p.m. Friday when the methodical grilling of Ronald’s’ 18 year old ex wife began. Only this time, it was with a well-prepared prosecutor with a fresh set of eyes, veteran state attorney Ed Davis of Daytona. He was there watching as investigators hammered away at the inconsistencies and lies Croslin has told for a year and a half about the night she reported five year old Haleigh Cummings missing in February, 2009.
Then the unthinkable happened. No longer able to hide from her lies, Misty Croslin cracked.
Amid tears, weeping and shaking, she blurted out that her brother, Tommy, did it and knows everything. Towards the end, she was distraught, yelling, and believed to be so shaken, required a brief suicide watch on a jail medical ward.
According to what Misty told her mother, during her interrogation, “she started going crazy, yelling and screaming,” she says, then wound up in the infirmary Friday night. “She wasn’t trying to kill herself, she was just very upset. She wanted to be by herself,” her mother, Lisa Croslin, tells The Bald Truth. “They put her on the medical ward with nurses watching. She said she felt like a squished up orange with no more juice to give.”
Within hours, she was off suicide watch, and “the next morning told me she felt better,” said Lisa.
Asked to confirm the treatment, St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Chuck Mulligan told The Bald Truth inmate medical records are private, and he would have no comment.
“She’s scared to death and feeling the pressure. I keep telling her nobody will hurt her where she is, that she needs to tell everything before she goes to court,” Lisa Croslin went on. “She says, â€˜I told â€˜em everything I know, Mama, that they need to talk to Tommy because he knows everything.’ Whoever done this, got my daughter so scared, I don’t understand it.”
But her mother was adamant about one thing: “Whoever did this to Haleigh needs to pay for it, even if it turns out to be one of my children,” she says. “But I still feel like she’s covering up for someone else.”
“Her cousin Joe story is a lie,” her sister in law Chelsea Croslin told me before it came out in her police interrogation Friday. At the time, we hadn’t been shown the basis for her claim, though she cited private letters from Misty (she once offered to sell to a bounty hunter who tellsme he declined to buy them) and other information she says she wants to provide law enforcement, but has had trouble getting through. “I was trying to tell them, but no one returns my calls,” she says.
Her mother tells me Misty calls her regularly from the St. John’s County Jail, where she awaits two October sentencing hearings in different counties on eight counts of drug trafficking that could fetch as much as 240 years behind bars. Tommy Croslin is also scheduled back in his home county for a motion to modify his sentence on Oct. 4, according to his attorney James Werter.
It was Tommy Croslin who lead investigators to the dock on the St. John’s River, claiming Overstreet picked him up at his house, drove him to the trailer to steal the machine gun, that Joe had snatched Haleigh when he couldn’t find it, and they went to the river to dump her. According to Tommy, he was high on Xanax, we’ve reported, and claiming he sat in the van while his cousin put Haleigh in the river. Only Misty’s now calling her own brother a liar.
Divers searched the river bottom, found no evidence or remains, and days later, sources describe detectives paying Tommy a visit in his cell to say not only were they not pleased, but aimed to make a murder case against him if he didn’t change his tune. Now, armed with Misty’s latest, sources tell me investigators plan to see what tap dance he’ll do to this music.
. “She’s obviously a desperate girl,” Tommy’s attorney, James Werter, told The Bald Truth Sunday. He’d not heard the latest allegation by his client’s sister. “I’d have extreme doubts about that one. It’s just not in Tommy’s nature or character.”
Even Misty’s own mother doesn’t know who or what to believe, since Misty has changed her story several times since she first called Lisa and her father, Hank, about 3:30 a.m. the night she found Haleigh missing. She reached her parents in a hospital room in Gainesville, where Hank was semi-conscious, the victim of an accident involving a drunk driver.
“She said, she couldn’t find Haleigh,” Lisa told me in our first exclusive interview in the Spring of 2009 outside her home in Satsuma, Florida, and posted at The Bald Truth to illustrate where Misty’s tall tales begin, including the family scapegoat, cousin Joe, now exonerated by Misty.
“I said, â€˜Misty, go through the trailer and look everywhere, look real hard,’ and she said, â€˜The back door is wide open.’ I said, â€˜Call the PO-lice right now, and that’s when she opened the back door and found Ronald, standing in the doorway.”
At the time, her mother was also pitching the Joe Overstreet theory, but now says there’s only one person Misty truly feared, her now ex husband, Ronald Cummings, convicted drug dealer, wannabe thug.
To hear her family tell it, Misty was 16 when they met, a grade school dropout with addict parents and siblings who grew up using lies to survive, then fell hard for a redneck Romeo, a veteran manipulator who preyed on underage girls, impregnating two others before he met Misty, including Haleigh’s mother, Crystal Sheffield.
Crystal once told me he won her over with big shot bravado and charm that quickly faded into drug use, controlling her with fear and abuse, often brandishing guns and threatening to kill himself and others.
Chelsea says Ronald would brag about his dangerous friends, and once took her and the kids to hang out on the edge of a biker community that felt like a scene from the movie, Mad Max. After Haleigh vanished, she said Cummings often remarked he could get her back for $35,000. Two locals who police have also interviewed tell me a wild-eyed Cummings stopped by their trailer within days of Haleigh gone missing, gun jammed in his waist, demanding they go with him to help rob a drug dealer. “I didn’t want to get involved,” says one man who remembers the night from the news that came on within days about Haleigh.
Sources close to the case tell me law enforcement dismissed their story as impossible to verify, and ruled out the so called Mexican drug gang angle, or any intruder, focusing the missing child case on close friends or family, and remain convinced Misty Croslin still holds the key.
As for Ronald Cummings threats and rants, Chelsea now interprets his faux drama as a ruse…Cummings projecting the illusion of a distraught, angry father to cover up what she believes really happened: that Haleigh accidentally overdosed on his pills, and he ordered Misty to to “get rid of the body,’ with Tommy’s help.”
Cummings attorney, Terry Shoemaker, tells me Ronald has cooperated with police and has nothing to hide, or he would not have been able to win a plea bargain of even 15 years. He maintains Misty knows what happened, that his client has no idea.
“This theory sounds pretty crazy,” Shoemaker tells The Bald Truth, in response to Chelsea’s blame game of his client as the puppetmaster behind his own daughter’s demise. “We have people saying he picked her up at the bus stop that day, and his grandmother dropped off laundry that night and saw the kids when he was at work. It just doesn’t add up that he had anything to do with it.” (SEE BELOW FOR CLARIFICATION)*****
Not to mention that his cell phone pings were traced to towers by his workplace at PDM Bridge in Palataka, Florida that night, dozens of calls and texts to Misty that sources tell us were not answered. She said her phone was dead. Then there were thumb print check ins, not a punch clock, placing him there, and witnesses, he says.
“Next thing, he’ll be accused as the mystery man behind the JFK assassination,” scoffs Shoemaker, adding had law enforcement not believed he was telling the truth about Misty and information he provided about the night Haleigh vanished, prosecutors would not have agreed to a plea in his drug case.
Yet Chelsea maintains photos showing Cummings “happier than a father should be 30 days after his daughter disappears,” backs up her theory, not to mention the rat he placed in Tommy’s mailbox, decapitated. Chelsea also says over the course of their brief marriage, Cummings isolated Misty, cut her off from her own family, and fought Tommy when he came to rescue her one day.
Then, she tells me, all of a sudden they were palling around after Cummings got out of jail for assaulting him, “and they were never friends before. It doesn’t add up unless he was giving the orders. “If the right person talked to Tommy, I’m betting he’d finally tell the truth, too.”
When we spoke to Cummings’ attorney Terry Shoemaker for this story, and asked about the night Haleigh went missing, he mentioned both Ronald’s grandmother and mother had dropped by earlier. It’s been confirmed that Annette Sykes stopped by with fresh laundry, but Teresa Neves insists she never went by the trailer.
Shoemaker says The Bald Truth either misunderstood him, or he mis-spoke. Regardless, he asked that we set the record straight.
We are happy to do so, and have edited the original story to reflect his request, and Teresa Neves’s account.
— art harris