By Art Harris, The Bald Truth, www.artharris.com, all rights reserved
Please join me tonight on HLN’s Jane Velez Mitchell Show at 7 p.m. when we’ll be discussing Misty Croslin’s court date to face more bad music stemming from seven remaining drug trafficking charges in Putnam County, Florida, and how it might affect the search for missing Haleigh Cummings.
The former teen babysitter for the missing 5 year old, who turned 19 last month in a Florida women’s prison, is already serving 25 years for one count of drug trafficking in St. John’s County, and could receive more than 100 years on the remaining counts if her lawyer, Robert Fields, can’t convince the judge that piling on any more hard time is unneccesary.
“What’s the sense in adding another 130 years? I don’t see how any objective person could think giving her more time than she’s already gotten would make a difference,” Fields tells The Bald Truth in an exclusive interview.
Last year, Croslin plead no contest to one count of trafficking after an undercover sting also netted her ex husband Ronald Cummings, his niece, Hope Sykes, brother Tommy Croslin and confidante Donna Brock, all serving 15 years for their roles in the small town drug ring.
Fields tells me after his last courtroom plea for mercy before a judge in St. John’s County fell on deaf earsâ€”that Croslin’s wayward parents, both drug addicts, unwittingly set her up for a tragic fall so early in life â€“ he’s reluctant to replay Misty’s sad country song for Putnam Circuit Judge Terry LaRue.
“I just hope he will see it serves no purpose to stick her with more jail time for the remainder of the charges,” Fields said. “I pulled out the stops last time and argued she didn’t have a chance in life given her circumstances. She had no role models, then married Ronald Cummings. I don’t know what else to say. It’s the truth.”
But truth has been a rare commodity in all the conflicting stories law enforcement has endured from Misty Croslin and others who may have had a hand, or know more than they’ve told about the vanishing of Cummings five year old. Her last claim, from letters published on The Bald Truth few believe she wrote, said Misty was asleep, didn’t know what happened, but believed Haleigh was alive.
Earlier she claimed brother Tommy and a Tennessee cousin, Joe Overstreet, came to her trailer in search of a machine gun owned by Ronald Cummings. We were the first to report sources close to the case revealing to The Bald Truth Misty flunked a 4th polygraph when she told law enforcement that she heard screams as Overstreet took the child.
She claimed she heard a door slam and a van she recognized as Tommy’s (parked at brother Timmy’s at the time) drive off.
Brother Tommy, who we reported also flunked a polygraphâ€”news that motivated his wife, Lindsay, to throw in the towel and file for divorceâ€”claimed he rode along with Overstreet and remained in the van as cousin Joe tossed Haleigh in the St. John’s River, weighed down by cinder blocks and a yellow rope–the same variety of rope, sources tell me, that was recovered from Tommy’s house and the van.
Tommy’s claims prompted a search using divers and anthropologists sifting through recovered bones that turned out to be animals and native American remains. But no Haleigh.
Overstreet denied any involvement, claiming he was the family scapegoat, and from new information obtained by The Bald Truth, his claim of innocence actually suggests a wider Croslin family conspiracy to cover for Misty, perhaps in fear what she knows could put other family members, even Ronald Cummings, in the crosshairs of a child murder investigation and cover-up.
What could turn things around for Croslin? If she suddenly coughed up the keys to unlocking the Haleigh Cummings murder mystery, she could face a reduction kin her prison term for drug trafficking, officially unrelated to a murder no one has been charged with.
She’s told so many conflicting stories law enforcement is as frustrated as her lawyer. Putnam County Sheriff’s Major Gary Bowling tells me they are willing to listen to anything of substance she has to say, or anyone, that can be backed up independently.
But so far, with fewer leads and no significant help from Croslin or others in moving the investigation ahead, investigators see some wisdom in letting her age in jail like bad swamp moonshine, in the hopes that sacrificing her best years to either protect herself or others will jolt her into cooperating about Haleigh.
Next: tips, leads and lies.