In this business, you have to be cautious. The biggest lesson I have learned is reporting something first does not make you a better journalist. Reporting something accurate does. Last night on cable news, it was reported that little Haleigh Cummings’ bones were discovered in the St. Johns River. Today after the media descended on Satsuma, FL, and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) was flooded with calls, PCSO released a statement (see statement below) saying that the reports were false. What they found were animal bones. These rumors left the other media, police, case watchers and, more importantly, the family with a false sense of hope and closure.
Date: April 21, 2010
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous inquiries regarding the recovery of the skeletal remains of missing 5 year-old Haleigh Cummings. A rumor has spread throughout our community that her body has been located. This rumor is false, and this information has been vastly misreported and sensationalized by the media.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office did recover animal remains such as alligator claws and teeth, and a multiple animal bones. The agency had an anthropologist at the scene that identified all “biological” items that were recovered as being non-human. Additionally, Misty Croslin could have easily seen these items while she was at the dock while the dive operation was in progress.
In an effort to prevent this false information from impeding our investigation, Sheriff Hardy wants to quell these rumors so we can maintain our focus on the criminal investigation.
Lieutenant Johnny Greenwood
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office