tv American Perspectives CSPAN October 10, 2009 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT
breaking news tonight. satsuma, florida. a 5-year-old little girl tucked into bed, five hours later, she's gone. vanished. the back door propped wide open. daddy comes home from the nightshift to find not a trace of little haleigh. the last person to see the 5-year-old alive that night, new stepmother, misty croslin. bombshell tonight. little haleigh's disappearance. the nine-month search for the brown-eyed 5-year-old. and the finger pointing at the
babysitter turned stepmom all finally take a toll. divorce. the two agree to formally split. has ronald cummings' worst years been confirmed? is he implicated in the disappearance of his 5-year-old girl? tonight with us taking your calls, ronald cummings. >> last night at chili's. >> what did he do? >> got down on his knees and said, will you marry me? >> the tensions are rising between ronald and misty. she's taking off again. she needs her space. >> focus on my daughter going missing and not what's going on
in my life besides my daughter being missing: >> can i talk to her? okay. >> have you asked her what happened? >> i ask her. but that -- i don't get any answers from her about, you know -- i don't see -- what she's telling me is not inconsistent. >> they go out and look for the right person, they would have the answers. but they're trying to get all the answers from me. >> do you think misty holds some information that could help do that? >> i don't think that she holds any information. >> everybody knows that i love haleigh and ronald and junior. i just want haleigh home. >> i have stated all along and i will continue to state that my grandchildren love misty and that misty loved my grandchildren. good evening. i'm nancy grace. i want to thank you for being with us. tonight, little haleigh's
disappearance. the nine-month search for the brown-eyed 5-year-old. and the finger pointing at babysitter turned stepmother, misty croslin, finally all take their toll, d-i-v-o-r-c-e, divorce. but what, if anything, does it mean in the search for haleigh? >> everybody's probably going to take this marriage thing the wrong way, but it's not. it's still focusing -- things are still focused on haleigh. this is what haleigh wanted. she's always talked about it. >> when did you last see her? >> it was about 10:00. we were sleeping. >> what will it take for misty to come back home and tell us the truth? >> do you feel misty is the key to this investigation? >> no, i don't. i think they're barking up the wrong tree. >> ronald is doing the best that he can to encourage misty to get with law enforcement and tell them anything she may have forgotten. >> do you believe that misty was indeed home and that she's been telling the truth?
>> yeah, i believe she's telling the truth. >> i don't care who it is. but we want haleigh to come home. >> as you sit here, do you believe in your heart that they see you as a suspect? >> no, i don't. >> i don't either. i talked to the lead detective. his name is john legend. >> and he said? >> he doesn't think that she's a suspect. >> everyone, you are seeing earlier video from nbc's "today" show. i want to go straight out to marlaina schiavo, our producer on the story from the very, very beginning. she's joining us from st. augustine, florida. marlaina, divorces happen every day. they're a dime a dozen. why is this significant? >> nancy, this is significant because all along during this entire time everybody's been questioning ronald. and they've been questioning
this marriage and why now, why after the last person to see haleigh gets married to the father of little haleigh. and now, after everything, they are splitting up. they've been saying for a long time that this has not been affecting them. they've been saying that they have not been fighting. they've been saying that, you know, misty was on vacation when she went to orlando. now we know why she's in orlando this time. it's because this marriage is ending. >> joining us tonight exclusively and taking your calls live, he's not afraid of the light of the camera or answering your calls. he has taken a lie detector test. we have been told that he passed. the biological father of little haleigh, ronald cummings. as you all know by now, cummings at work at the time little haleigh goes missing. comes home to find not a trace of her. all he finds is his then girlfriend at home with her hands wide open, where's
haleigh? ronald cummings, why now? why a divorce now? many people say your worst fears have been confirmed, that you along with the rest of the country, believe that croslin knows more than she's telling. >> miss nancy, i'm not sure that's the case. it's just we can't go anywhere without being -- you know, it's a hard -- it's hard enough to be a married couple, and then we can't go anywhere without being questioned or people staring at us or anything like that. >> okay. so you're getting a divorce because people stare at you? i don't believe that for one minute. >> no, that's not why i'm getting a divorce. i'm -- that's a part of the reason why i'm getting a divorce. >> then why are you doing it? >> the two of us -- the two of us have agreed to go separate ways, and if in the long run
something comes about haleigh then she can -- you know, it will be whatever. >> are you trying to say -- >> i still don't believe -- go ahead. >> are you trying to say in the long run you may get back together, in the long run she may finally tell you what happened that night? in the long run what? >> that, miss nancy, i'm not sure what's going to happen in the long run. i can't predict the future. but i would sure hope that just with the family problems and everything else it's just -- it's too much on the relationship. >> when you say family problems, are you referring to the fact that her family says she's not telling the truth about the disappearance of your little girl? her mother, her brother, and others? >> well, it's not only that. it's also, you know, the fight and everything -- it's just
everything. >> we are taking your calls live. with me, ronald cummings. today it is announced that he is divorcing girlfriend-turned-stepmother misty croslin, the last one to see this little girl alive, little haleigh cummings. the tip line, 888-277-tips. 8477. there is a reward for help in finding little haleigh. her family still believes she's alive. out to the lines. brenda in west virginia. hi, brenda. >> caller: hi, nancy. welcome back. >> thank you. thank you. and i'm going to thank you again. but thank everyone for your prayers for my mother. i really appreciate that. >> caller: yeah. what i wanted to know was why did they wait so long to search the pond? you know, that pond never went nowhere, and all this time was
wasted. why didn't they search that pond within a few days? >> good question. to ellie jostad, our chief editorial producer on the story, what about it, ellie? we heard all these stories about this pond. then not one but two letters emerged, detailing an alleged party late that night when haleigh went missing, a party fueled by drugs. there was an allegation little haleigh accidentally ingested oxycontin at that party, that she died, and that her body was disposed of in that pond. do i believe it? no. simply because, ellie, you know a bunch of people at a party are not going to keep their yaps shut. >> right. >> all right? that's the only reason i don't believe that story. go ahead, ellie. >> well, police won't say that the letter was the cause of the search. they said they already knew about this pond, they'd searched
around it in the past and that they'd planned to do a more thorough search. so they won't say there's a cause and effect between that jailhouse letter and the pond being searched. >> out to the lines. portia in florida, hi, portia. >> caller: hi, nancy. i'm actually calling from california. >> good to know. portia in california. thank you for calling, dear. >> caller: thank you for taking my call, miss nancy. >> yes, ma'am. >> caller: my question is has anyone, the police or mr. cummings himself, have they -- i understand that little haleigh has a medical condition. have they looked into whether or not she was given her medication that night, and if so, perhaps that would give them a better time frame of the last time, you know, that she was in the home. >> now, portia in california, that's an excellent question. to ronald cummings, he is taking your calls tonight on the heels of a divorce announcement in the last hours. he is splitting from girlfriend turned stepmother, the last person to see haleigh alive.
her story has come under fire. misty croslin. ronald, was she on medication for the turner syndrome? >> miss nancy, she was on medication, but at the time the only medication she needed was her albuterol treatment, which came in a breather. so all she has to do is a couple squirts and that's it, so that her asthma is -- so she can breathe well and she's not wheezing. >> correct me if i'm wrong, ronald, but the albuterol, the inhaler, you can't look at it and tell how much is in there, correct? >> no, ma'am. >> so you don't know if she used that before she went to bed or not. was her inhaler still there? >> yes, ma'am. >> so the inhaler was still there. everyone, with me tonight, ronald cummings, the biological father and guardian of little haleigh. the search is still on. but tonight, another wrench in the works. a divorce for ronald cummings and stepmom -- new stepmother misty croslin. we are taking your calls live.
i love her like she's my own and i'll do anything to get her back. >> big news in the search for little haleigh cummings. we're hearing her father, ron cummings, and his teen bride, misty, are headed for divorce. >> ronald told her on sunday that he wants a divorce. on monday he headed to st. augustine to his attorney's office, and then by monday afternoon she was packing her stuff and she left town. >> being married, it can be stressful, and there can be challenges. add on top of that everything that they went through during their marriage. i think it would be virtually impossible for any couple to survive that. >> she is the one that holds the
key information to finding out what happened to this beautiful little girl. i mean, who was with her? the last person with her. she was. >> miss neves, i don't mean to grill you. but it just doesn't all fit together. >> to me it's a very dysfunctional family. and that's the best way i can describe that. >> they go out and look for the right person, maybe they would have the answers. but they're trying to get all the answers from me that i don't have. >> have you asked her what happened? >> i ask her, but i -- i don't get any answers. >> what, if anything, does a divorce at this stage mean in the search for little haleigh? taking your calls live tonight, haleigh's father, ronald cummings. let's unleash the lawyers. joining me tonight out of new york, family law attorney, child advocate sue moss.
out of los angeles, eric chase. a defense attorney out of new york, renowned attorney jason oceans. straight to you, sue moss. weigh in. >> he's divorcing her before the prom. maybe she'll go with her felon mom. i mean, only stevie wonder didn't see this coming. but this should be a simple case. and that's because florida's a no-fault state, which means either party's entitled to divorce for the asking. unfortunately, because of ron's being laid off, there's really no support issues, there's probably no property to divide, and certainly there's no children's issue because the couple never had a child together. >> to ronald cummings, ronald, who wanted the divorce? you or her? >> i think we both agreed on it. >> who brought it up first? >> i did. >> and what did she say? >> she agreed to it. >> immediately? >> not really immediately, but pretty close to immediately. >> so at first she did not want the divorce? >> not really.
>> eric chase, l.a., what do you make of the fact that a lot of people speculated she wanted to marry cummings so he could never testify against her? but in florida the law is very different than it is in a lot of other states. explain, chase. >> well, she would have been very wrong if that's what she assumed because in florida there's an exception to the marital communication privilege and that exception is if it involves harm to a child of one of the parents. she could have been forced -- i'm sorry, he could have been forced to testify about her if he knew anything. and by the way, nancy, it doesn't appear that he does know anything about misty's involvement in -- >> put up the lawyer. put up the lawyer. chase, he's divorcing her. all right? it doesn't mean he was there at the time the child went missing. but certainly, he has heard varying and conflicting stories from misty croslin. i mean, i have. and i'm 1,000 miles away. so don't say he doesn't know anything.
okay? >> well, you're right -- >> maybe he doesn't want to know anything. >> well, there's conflicting stories, but i haven't seen anything, any evidence connecting misty to her disappearance other than the fact she's been unable to retell the story the same way more than once. >> well, you know, jason oshins, to me, that's a problem. >> yeah. >> i've seen a lot of witnesses, a lot of witnesses, they'll add to the story. they'll say, oh, yeah, and i remember x, and i remember it was a red car. and it had glass packs or it had -- this is the tag number. but they don't change the story. the story doesn't change. i have a problem with the story changing. >> well, it's -- >> to me that's evidence. >> nancy, it's the inconsistency. any good investigator will tell you that over time the consistency of the story, or for that matter the inconsistency will continue to lead investigators -- >> put chase back up. >> -- toward targeting someone. >> put the lawyers back up. chase, did you hear that? >> i did. but you were a prosecutor, nancy, and you used to argue to juries --
>> so? >> you used to argue to juries -- >> so? >> that your witnesses had problems keeping the story straight as they told it time after time after time. >> i know you were going to make a point. somewhere in there. i'm wading through it. >> we don't expect witnesses to remember everything perfectly every time they tell the story. >> not what i said. i said the story changed. ronald cummings, did it ever disturb you that misty croslin's story actually changed? >> yes, ma'am, it did. >> i hope that they -- they find my child alive, obviously. but one way or another, i want my daughter to come home. i need some closure. ddddd
i know i didn't do anything to that little girl. i would never hurt her. i mean, they love me. they -- i mean, they look at me i would never hurt her. i mean, they love me. they -- i mean, they look at me like their mom. >> do you feel that misty has the key to this investigation? >> no, i don't. i think they're barking up the wrong tree. >> it's definitely an issue that she's 17 years old because she doesn't have those adult
thinking skills that a lot of us would have, even though she's leading a very adult life. >> the police have not -- still have not been able to put together a timeline on exactly what happened that night because of her inconsistencies. >> she took that police polygraph. i don't believe she took -- she passed it the first time. i don't believe she did. now this one. then there was that voice stress test. i mean, something is wrong with her story, ronald. >> i don't know, miss nancy. >> everybody knows that i love haleigh and ronald and junior. a family. just like haleigh wanted. >> the last holdout, the last person that is giving her an ability to go out and not to tell the truth is ron. it seems to me that they should put their foot down and tell misty that the time for being vague is over. >> when you go to pick up your son and you see misty, have you tried to speak to misty croslin about what happened that night? >> no.
>> why? >> i can't. >> why? >> because she was the last one to see our daughter and i just -- i -- >> i mean, if somebody was the last person to be with my child, john david or lucy, and police say they have the key to what happened, i would at least say "what happened?" >> well, i haven't seen her since the results. but i did talk to her on the telephone, and she was telling me she had no problem with me and that she didn't have anything to do with our daughter going missing, that she was at home and all this stuff that everybody's saying is lies about her. that's the only time i've talked to her. >> okay. well, you've got to take that with a box of salt because what do you expect the ex-wife is going to say about the new girlfriend? okay?
that's never good. we are taking your calls live. to jane velez-mitchell, host of hln's "issues" and author of a fantastic new book we're going to talk about shortly. jane, what about croslin's mother behind bars? they already put the squeeze on her brother, who coughed up quite a bit of information in a late-night jailhouse interview. now mommy's behind bars on a forgery of a check. >> and she remains behind bars. and i think that the whole effort of law enforcement is to put the squeeze on this family because who would misty confide in? if she was going to tell one person what really happened that night. mama. of course she would confide in mama. and what's the best way to get mama to talk? keep her behind bars. it worked with the brother. it will ultimately work with the mom. although it will take longer. >> the mom is now extradited from tennessee to florida. in a nutshell, nutshell, what
did the brother cough up? >> well, i mean, he essentially said he went over there that night, knocked on the door, and nobody was home at the crucial time when misty said she had put the kids to bed but she was still up and there was a tv on. so it just doesn't add up. the brother essentially completely busting her story wide open. >> with me right now, mike brooks, former fed with the fbi. mike, thank you for being with us. weigh in. >> nancy, you know, as law enforcement says, the only thing about misty, the only thing consistent with her are her inconsistencies. two failed law enforcement polygraphs right from the beginning. they wanted tim miller to come back and help them look again, and he says no, i'm not coming back unless you take a polygraph. she took a polygraph. she failed that also. you know, there's just all the pieces in this timeline from the very beginning just don't add up. and if she wants to help law enforcement, then come back from orlando, sit down with or without your lawyer, and tell the truth. period. >> with me right now, exclusively, ronald cummings. taking your calls. now, that's brave. not just talking to the police but talking to the country, live. ronald, mike brooks makes an excellent point.
why won't she come and sit down with police and talk to them? >> that, miss nancy, i can't answer for you. i'm sure that maybe her attorney can answer it for you. and hopefully that she will. >> uh-uh. uh-uh. no. you have to have talked to her about talking to the police. what did she say? >> we have talked to her about talking to the police. >> what did she say? >> she said she's talked to them. >> they want to talk to her again. why won't she do it? >> i have no knowledge of them wanting to talk to her where she wouldn't do it. >> okay. let's go to terry shoemaker, attorney for haleigh's father, ronald cummings. okay. you know, i know, the police
know, the rest of the country knows the police want to talk to misty croslin. it's not a secret. so how can she with a straight face that she does not know they want to talk to her? please enlighten me, mr. shoemaker. you've got a good reputation. >> right. well, i think everyone knows the police would love to sit down and talk with her. it's my guess that probably her attorney isn't allowing her to do that, which isn't uncommon in this type of situation. >> okay. back to you, cummings. your lawyer knows police want to talk to her. so do not lie to me. you've never lied to me before to my knowledge. don't tell me you didn't know police want to talk to her again. we all know it. we've talked about it on this show, on national tv. now, i'm telling you, police want to talk to her. now, why is she back in orlando and not speaking to police? >> that i'm not sure, miss nancy. i already told you the same as what terry said. it's probably due to her attorney, his advice. >> she actually -- stopped by the putnam county sheriff's department today to inform them
of where she's going and where she'll want to be if they wanted to speak to her. >> you know what? i didn't get that whole thing. with me -- let me introduce you. brandon beardsley, family law attorney representing ronald. repeat, sir. >> my understanding is before she left for orlando that she stopped by the putnam county sheriff's department and reported in and told them where she was going if they needed her. >> did they try to question her? did they try to question her at that time? >> not to my knowledge. all i know is what i was told. and of course it's hearsay. but i was told from a reliable source that she did check in -- >> well, mr. beardsley -- >> -- before she left town -- >> mr. beardsley, this is not a court of law. so -- >> i understand that. >> -- you don't have to make your own objection on hearsay. i find it very difficult to believe that she was at the police station and nobody threw a question at her. but who knows? for all i know she went in and -- >> well, they can't. >> -- talked to the secretary. >> if she goes in and her attorney's not there and they
know she's represented they can't just question her. you know that. >> yes, mr. beardsley. i do know that. but when someone voluntarily marches alone into the police station -- repeat, voluntarily -- certainly, you know, mr. beardsley, that even when one is represented by counsel, if they voluntarily speak to police, that that is admissible in a court of law. yes/no? >> yes, ma'am. you are correct. but -- >> we are taking your -- >> listen, all i -- all i know is what i was told. i don't know if they questioned her or not. >> well put. out to the lines. barbara in missouri. hi, barbara. >> caller: hi, nancy. >> hi, dear. what's your question? >> caller: i was just wondering why they aren't looking at misty's brother more. he put himself at that trailer. just because he said he knocked real loud and left does not mean he didn't try the door. we know one of the doors was not locked because there was no break-in. so what if he went in, everyone was sleeping, and he took the little girl? >> to marlaina schiavo, what about him? he does place himself there.
>> he does place himself there. but to say that his door -- their door was not locked, we're not entirely sure what happened that night. we know the door was propped open on the side of the house, but we don't necessarily know who propped that door open. so we don't know if the door was unlocked, nancy. >> okay. we don't know if the door was open. that's not really knocking me out, marlaina. what about it? to you, ellie jostad. what do we know about the brother? >> well, we do know that the brother has spoken to police and they say that he's not a suspect, same with the rest of misty's family. police continually go back to their line they've said, especially since haleigh's birthday that haleigh -- rather, i'm sorry, that misty is the person ho holds the key, that she's failed to give a detailed account of what was going on that night, and they want to know from any other citizen who might know what she was doing that night, they want them to come forward and speak to them as well. >> leslie austin, psychotherapist, new york, weigh in quickly. >> i'm not surprised ron is
being really careful. he doesn't want to tick her off. she's the only one who has a clue. she's not going to talk either. she just wants to save her skin. right now she's walking in the street, she's not in jail. why would she talk to anyone? like casey anthony. >> well, leslie austin, once again you've made perfect sense. quick break, everybody. we're taking your calls. live with us tonight taking your questions, ronald cummings, haleigh's father, this on the heels of an announcement just hours ago, divorce. what does it mean in this investigation? and tonight, a special congratulations to liberty united methodist church, macon, georgia. hearing the call to serve others. they are building a beautiful playground, redesigning, painting, and kicking off their very first parents' morning out to serve others. today, the most beautiful playground equipment, swing set, tunnel, steps, the works, have arrived on the scene. it's love in action. and god bless the little children that are coming your way, liberty methodist.
she can't help that. she can't help she was the last one to see her. could have been any one -- any one of us and our children. >> they've been married just shy of seven months. and today ronald cummings' lawyer told us he and misty could be headed for divorce. >> she had nothing to do with this. we've -- i had nothing to do with this.
or if comings were to admit he did not believe croslin's story. that's his business. i asked the question. he deposit answer. but i want to bring this back to haleigh. a 5-year-old little girl is missing tonight. i want to bring that to dr. keith, a founder and doctor of pediatricnow.com. dr. o'keefe, thank you for being with us. a child with turner's syndrome, what problems does she face if she's still alive? [ no audio ]
>> ronald cummings along with lawyers terry shoemaker, brandon beardsley, thank you for being with us. mr. cummings, i can say that tonight for the first time i don't believe you. i think you do suspect your ex-wife, soon to be ex-wife's story. i think you don't want to discuss it in the midst of a divorce. why? i don't know that yet. but i'll find out. thank you for being with us. right now with me jane velez-mitchell. take a listen. >> the haleigh cummings case.
did the little girl accidentally overdose on oxycontin? we've got a copy of a letter that places misty cummings and little haleigh at a wild drug-fueled party the very night she disappeared. the author of the letter says she's just paraphrasing a theory police got from somebody else. the writer of the letter essentially claims the whole story is a big lie. tonight's big issue, keeping dark secrets. if misty croslin cummings does indeed know more than she -- >> you know, i've been reading my book, "eleventh victim," but forget about that. here is jane velez-mitchell, my friend, my co-worker, here on hln. jane, i'm completely knocked out. you know what? there's not a lot of ways to say it, but let me say it nicely. you've got a lot of guts. >> thank you, nancy. >> you've got a lot of guts. tell me about the book, "i want," by jane velez-mitchell.
>> i wrote this book because i struggled with a lot of problems. and why waste a problem? i've found solutions to -- >> wait, i've got to write that down. why waste a problem? i've never thought about it like that. >> why waste a problem? yeah. i struggled with alcoholism for most of my life. i finally by the grace of god got sober 14 1/2 years ago. >> praise the lord. >> yes, praise the lord. it was a miracle. and i don't use that word lightly. >> hold on, let me step back. how did you -- i mean, look at you, you're young, beautiful, talented, smart, education, the works. how did you get in the bottle? >> well, i believe i have a genetic predisposition, which i describe in my book, which i dedicate to my father, pierce mitchell. my dad was a high-functioning alcoholic. so i think i had it in the genes. but i also saw it environmentally. i didn't realize people didn't drink every night until i got out into the world and started to see that people didn't drink every night. >> that's crazy. because i never saw anybody drink until i went to college. >> and that's probably why you don't have a -- >> somebody handed me a beer and i poured it into a plant because i thought it smelled bad. okay, now -- >> you're lucky. >> so you grew up in this environment.
and when did you realize -- what made you realize you had a problem? >> well, i blacked out. and that's the classic hallmark of alcoholism. i wouldn't remember what happened after a certain hour. drugs play such a huge role in them. that's why i wrote this book "i want." there are people out there, millions and millions. struggling with drugs and alcohol. they don't have a clue, and i went through this whole process, they can save themselves a lot of hell and a lot of heart ache. and take a short cut to recovery and get sober. because, it only gets worse, the thing about alcoholism and drug adikts it only gets worse. it is progressive. >> and looking at you, i mean, nobody would believe you have ever had a problem. >> well, the people who knew me way back when would, because they saw me in action, and i was very lucky, i didn't get a dui, but i was a lush. >> jane velez-mitchell, you know what? she has a heart of a pioneer. her new book, "i want."
>> last night, actually. he got down on my knees and said will you marry me. >> tensions are rising. between ronald and misty. >> focus on my daughter gone missing and not focus on what is going on in my life beside my daughter gone missing. >> have you asked her what happened? >> i asked her. i don't get any answers from her about -- you know, i don't see
what she, what she is telling me is not -- inconsistent. >> -- [ inaudible ] trying to get the answers from me. >> do you thing misty -- >> i don't think -- tau afor jane velez-mitchell, my friend and co-anchor here on hln, new book "i want." you know, a lot of people keep their problems hidden. my problems, i don't want to talk about them, i don't want the world to know my problems. what went through my mind and my heart in my deepest, darkest time, for instance after my fiance was murdered. but you don't care. you don't care. >> i really don't. they say you're only as sick as your secrets. i've learned that the hard way covering crime. a lot of the crimes that we
cover, they're based on toxic secrets, you've got to cover it up with secrets, you lie, and lie, lie and then it blows up in your face. i had to deal with workalolicism. >> doing you thing being a workaholic stemmed from the same reasons as the alcoholism. >> yes, we try to self medicate. when you take away the alcohol, you try to use something else. some people use food, some people use sex, some people use gambling. it's all the same. that's the substance of choice. it's the desire to escape and what we learn in sobriety, that is to sit through the feelings. i describe that in my book, that i was taught by any mentors in sobriety, to sit through the feelings, the unpleasant feels that come up. and know they won't last forever. that's when you break through to the other side. >> everybody, we have put jane's book on our website, you can get it at headline news, hln.
i really hope that for any of you that are battling demons, this helps you, "i want" by jane velez mitchell. let's stop and remember, army private, adam muller, american hero. joined the army to pay off college loans. earned his degree, loved music. his dog spirit, car, dreamed of being a cop. leaves behind childhood sweetheart, wife, michelle. parents james and katherine. adam muller, american hero. thanks to our guests and especially for you being with us. i'll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp eastern. until then. good night, friend.