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Is Haleigh Cummings' Dad an Unfit Parent?

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Ronald Cummings believes, even with his daughter missing, he's still a good parent.

haleigh-cummings.jpg

Despite the fact that his daughter Haleigh has been missing for over a month, Ronald Cummings told reporters he believes he is a better parent than the missing 5-year-old's mother, Crystal Sheffield.

Sheffield, through her attorney Kim Picazio, has made allegations that Cummings has been physically abusive to her and her children. "When a parent beats a child until the child is bloodied ... that is a crime in this county and where I'm from," said Picazio. Cummings has denied the allegations and hired an attorney.

Defending her grandson, Haleigh Cummings' great-grandmother, Annette Sykes, says, "Ronald's a good daddy. I'm not saying he's perfect because he's not. He's a young father, but he loves his children. He provides for his children. He spends as much time as he can with them."

Cummings, who just wed his 17-year-old child-bride, has custody of both Haleigh and the girl's younger brother, Ronald Jr. How is possible that Halieigh and Ron Jr.'s mom doesn't have custody? Sheffield maintains it's because she was never told when the custody hearings were to take place. Robin Sax, a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, says it's unlikely Sheffield's children would be taken away as punishment for missing a court date.

It could be possible, says Sax, that Sheffield never bothered making a court appearance at all. In that case, it's not about who is a better parent. "Unfortunately," explains Sax, "it comes down to who cared enough to show up to court."

The courts also look at what's called a "welfare checklist" to determine what is in the child's best interest. This includes:

1. Physical, emotional and/or educational needs, now and in the future
2. The likely effect on any change in the circumstances, now and in the future
3. Age, sex, background and any other characteristics the court considers relevant
4. Any harm suffered by the child (or the risk of potential future harm)
6. How capable each parent is to take care of the child (in comparison to the other parent or other potential caregiver)
7. The wishes and feelings of the child -- taking into account their age, developmental abilities to make decisions, etc.

Based on this list, some would debate Cummings has displayed negligence by leaving both of his children in the care of a minor (Misty, who's now his wife). But Cummings has a history of relationships with underage girls -- Haleigh's mother was also underage when they began dating, which is another concern. "How old will Haleigh be when her father thinks it's OK for her to have a physical relationship?" wonders Sax.

Whether Cummings is involved in his daughter's disappearance or not has yet to be seen, but Sax wouldn't be surprised if he's guilty of some kind of inappropriate behavior. "Parents who make poor judgment calls typically put their kids at a greater risk of sexual and physical abuse," she says.

Do you think Ronald Cummings should have custody?



Listen to Misty Cummings' 911 call:

If you have seen Haleigh, or know anything about her disappearance, call 911 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 277-TIPS (8477).





next: Your Kid Needs a J-O-B!
93 comments so far | Post a comment now
ame i. March 23, 2009, 6:44 PM

Is he an unfit parent? YES. He married the 17 year old he left in charge of his children while he was at work and she accidentally “lost” one of them? I call that unfit. Neither has any business having children in their home. His 17 year old bride will end up pregnant before she is 19. She has already “lost” one child, should she be given the chance to lose another?

Angela March 23, 2009, 7:06 PM

I have to agree Ame i. He did marry a 17 yr old who by the way seems to be really immature.I also think that when you have drug arrests on your record,as many as he did,he should have never gotten custody of those children.I have no idea what kind of mother Crystal Haleigh’s bio-mom is but I don’t see how Ron ever got custody of those kids and in doing so look what has happened.If in fact Ron and Misty are found guilty in any wrong doing, against Haleigh I believe the state should have to answer questions on why he had these children in the first place after DCF had been called several times because of loud arguing and alleged spankings of corporal punishment where reported.

shellie March 23, 2009, 7:53 PM

I BELIEVE RONALD CUMMINGS IS SUFFERING ENOUGH WITH THE LOSS OF HIS DAUGHTER. I THINK ALOT OF THESE ARTICLES ARE PRINTED BECAUSE CRYSTAL WANTS CUSTODY. WELL HOW NICE ! SHE HASN’T BEEN AROUND FOR THIS LITTLE GIRLS LIFE NOW SHE WANTS CUSTODY. FOR ALL WE KNOW MAYBE SHE HAS THE LITTLE GIRL OR IS BEHIND THIS, SO SHE CAN GET CUSTODY. I CAN’T IMAGINE WHAT THIS FAMILY IS GOING THROUGH .I REALLY WISH LIES WOULD STOP AND EVERYONE WOULD PUT THEIR FULL CONCENTRATION ON HALEIGH. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER & FAMILY ARE INNOCENT. I DO NOT BELIEVE HE DID ANYTHING TO HIS DAUGHTER.HOWEVER THE BIOLOGICAL MOTHER WAS NOT VERY UPSET ON TV OR IN INTERVIEWS ,THIS BOTHERED ME .I ALSO FEEL ITS A REALLY BAD TIME TO WORRY ABOUT CUSTODY I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE HER DOING THIS NOW UNLESS SHE HAD THIS PLANNED? I WOULD BE OUT THERE MOVING HEAVEN & EARTH! IS SHE SEARCHING FOR HER LITTLE GIRL? NO SHE IS MORE WORRIED ABOUT CUSTODY. I ALSO DON’T THINK IF THE BOY WAS IN DANGER THE DETECTIVES WOULD LET HIM REMAIN IN THAT HOUSE OR HIS GRANDMOTHER. THIS IS HORRIBLE! I PRAY DAILY THEY FIND THIS CHILD. SHELLIE FROM PA.

binki March 23, 2009, 8:10 PM

has evreybody forgotten that ron was close friends with mistys cousin and let him come and go from his house? he was a child molester. in our state that constitues neglect and removal of the children. ron has a lusty crimnal arrest record. he beat up crystal but what she doesnt deserve the bleeding hearts we give other abuse victims. he took the kids from her on a visit after she moved out which is what victims of abuse should do move out. that would be considered kidnapping. he is a piece of work and always looks like hes on one. oh and the place where he got his tatoos reported that he quit his job and was bragging that he made more money on donations. yeah right hes father of the year

Teri March 23, 2009, 9:33 PM

To Shellie from Pa. I agree with you 100%. The fact that everyone is attacking Ronald Cummings and his family is outrageous. What is even more outrageous, are the people who automatically believe EVERYTHING that Crystal Sheffield says. I bet they believed everything Susan Smith said too.
There are no records of domestic abuse against Crystal or even calls to the police. She appeared in court on numerous occasions and never NOT EVER until now, said a word about ANY abuse.
She even said in an interview, ‘he would never hurt Haleigh, she is his heart.’ So which is it? She has never shed a tear during any interview. Yes she has dabbed at her eyes a lot, but no tears.
Like I asked before, doesn’t anyone remember Susan Smith. She was a good mommy huh? Bet you believed her binki.
Whoever binki is, where did you get your info about the tatoo place? You sound like you are a friend of the bio mom. You also forgot to mention that Crystal nearly let Haleigh drown due to neglect. She appeared before 2 judges 3 different times and lost custody.
He might not be as educated and as smart as everyone would like him to be, but would the kids have a better home with a woman who is now shacked up with her step brother? Don’t think so.
As for the age of his wife. How many people out there hire 15-17 year old girls to babysit their kids? Many don’t see anything wrong with that.
Crystal is PO’d he dated and married a 17 yr old. Maybe she is just jealous.
She sure isn’t mentioning looking for Haleigh, and she forgets in all her interviews to make a plea for Haleigh to be returned.
Oh, maybe she just forgot, like she forgot to take her to all those doctor appointments.
Teri PA

court March 23, 2009, 10:03 PM

I feel so sorry for the family. I hope she is found soon & alive and well! I had a baby at 17 and I took care of my baby just fine. And yes me and my husband have been married since and it has been 12 years!!! I do think that Ronald being 25, that’s too old to be with a 17 year old. All the picture’s & video’s they all look pretty happy. Bottom linbe though…NOBODY…NOBODY deserves to have there child stolen from them…NOBODY. My prayers are with them!

Helen March 24, 2009, 12:10 AM

It is time for people to stop attacking Ron and his family.

Everyone points out how young Misty is, and how young Crystal was when she was with Ron. Keep in mind, Ron is not much older than Crystal. Crystal and Ron were young together.

In small towns and country areas like Satsuma, a lot of girls marry young. It seems to be pretty normal for teenage girls to marry guys in their 20’s. I am not saying it is wrong or right, just stating the facts based on personal experience. (From living in a rural area much like Satsuma.)

I have no respect for Crystal. She has a history of filing false claims against others. For example, she claimed a co-worker had stolen her car. Later on, Crystal came clean under police questioning and admitted she had lied.

The pictures shown do not look like abuse either. They look like normal childhood injuries that all of us see in our kids. I think Crystal is jealous of how much those kids love Ron and Misty. It seems to me that if she had honestly thought those children were being abused, she would have done something long ago.

Let’s face it, the focus here should be on finding Haleigh.

terri March 24, 2009, 12:20 AM

Ron also was a snitch for the police as was reported on tv. Dont you think someone has some anger and revenge for him. Ron needs to come forth and be honest instead of keeping his little dirty drug secrets. Crystal needs to come out and tell the truth about his drug habits also. Ron may be acting the part and im sure hes sad but he is NO angel and needs to stop lying.

becca March 24, 2009, 2:44 AM

Why would crystal take Haleigh and not JR? just askin

akima March 24, 2009, 3:16 AM

Something about they way they acted on that 911 tape is very very wrong. The many different versions of that night from the teenage girlfriend is wrong. Something about the Dad seems really off, and weird - “I want the focus to stay on Hailey, but hey…underage girlfriend lets get married…..today” It was the same way with Casey Anthony. The weird story about the babysitter, then the story kept changing, then photographs of Mommy partying all over town after her daughter is missing. In this case a sudden marriage to the teenager who you left in charge of your children and she was in a bed less than 5 feet from where your daughter was sleeping when she disappeared from the TRAILER home - were not talking a big house like Jean Benet Ramsey’s here -IT WAS A TRAILER!!!….hmmmm….something does not feel right with this at all.
And no, I never believed Susan Smith’s stupid story either, it sounded crazy from the beginning.

mish March 24, 2009, 8:01 AM

Didn’t Jessica Lunsford live in a TRAILER? Wasn’t she taken from A TRAILER? She was taken by John Couey, repeat sex offender. Ron never needed an attorney until Crystal hired one. The attorney isn’t to protect him from LE but rather from Crystals bogus accusations. Not only did Crystal say Ron would never hurt Haleigh but she also said Haleigh and Jr. loved Misty. Now all of a sudden there is child abuse? IMO she is jealous and doesn’t want to pay child support. Her father is an ex-marine and former sheriff. Maybe he took Haleigh for Crystal. He would have the black marine uniform. Haleigh would know him and not scream. Something to think about. Did anyone see Crystals MySpace page before she changed it? Unfortunately I didn’t. The following is copied and pasted from artharris.com.

Candy Says:
March 14th, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Art, I am so disappointed reading here today. Come on, at least you used to be capable of presenting an unbiased piece, but this reads like a rejected harlequin script. There is much more to the other side of the story where the mother was over four grand in arrears on child support, didn’t feel like getting out bed to seek medical care for her own children, and was basically shirking her duties off on anyone from what I hear.

Now suddenly Mother Crystal is having a makeover on MYSPACE, and all the inappropriate remarks are gone, from referring to her NON CUSTODIAL CHILDREN as BRATS, not using Haleigh’s name anywhere, chat about partying it up, many references to the MARY JANE party she had turning 23, and the list goes on.

But still no child support for her first two children and yes to a new baby for Mother Crystal. WOW….you can’t put lipstick on that pig Art. Find another noble cause to put your name on.

Now she’s in high gear and bitter, because even with another child, no marriage. Let it go and help find Haleigh.




natalie March 24, 2009, 8:21 AM

I find it funny how people right away feel so badly for him… WHY? she was left with a MINOR… HELLO!!!! not to mention he married a MINOR…

I dont feel sorry for him he did it to himself and a good parent? yeah suuure

Campbell March 24, 2009, 8:51 AM

Everyone keeps saying the children were left with Misty who was a minor. Regardless of whether she was his live-in girlfriend or not, what law prevents you from leaving your kids with a minor? I babysat kids starting at age 13 and many times I fell asleep waiting for the parents to get home. What’s the difference? I don’t think that alone makes him an unfit parent.

hollie March 24, 2009, 9:02 AM

ok i have a hard time believing any of it, i haven’t believed anything that has come out of Misty’s mouth from the beginning, her story has changed way to many times. i dont know what happened, but they all should be more worried about finding haleigh. i guess what really pisses me off though is Ron and Misty, i maybe wrong, but why in the world are you going out to eat at chilis, getting tattoos, and getting married when your five year old daughter is missing. they could have waited to do that when she came home. if my daughter was missing, i would not leave the command post, unless i was in the woods searching for her, someone would have to bring me a sandwich or something, and the LAST THING on my mind would be getting married. They should be ashamed of themselves. oh and by the way i am from a small community in sc, and we all dont get married and have children when we are teenagers. Everybody please pray they find this baby soon and bring her home. God bless you Haleigh!!

Susan March 24, 2009, 9:24 AM

I dont know if Ronald Cummings is unfit, because i only know what what Chrystal Sheffield is saying! If haleigh never went missing, Chrystal wouldnt be seeking custody of JR. I think they both seem immature anyways. They cant come together for the sake of their missing child who might be dead, instead they are getting married and going through a custody battle. I dont agree with Ron marrying a teenager, especially a month after is 5 year old daughter goes missing. I think Ron maybe becoming a sex offender myself. 10 years from now, he might still be dating teens. Who knows.

Just hoping Haleigh is still alive, and may the best parent gain custody!

MiMi March 24, 2009, 10:05 AM

I really hope Haleigh is found safe. As far as Misty not remembering the times I can understand that.You don’t know something like this is going to happen so you’re not watching the clock plus being upset your mind is going wild. I’ve been there 5 days of living hell not knowing where my baby was at who would take him.Thank God he was found alive. The neighbor 6 houses down took him. About 2 weeks after he was found I started to remember things I should of told the police but could think at the time.Believe me I was a basket case. On some of these posting I read how uneducated they are.Im not that educated either but we have feeling.

LISA March 24, 2009, 10:21 AM

AMEN SHELLIE!!!!

RONALD RECIEVED CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE, BUT THREE TIMES. I WAS RONALD’S NEIGHBOR FOR 14 YEARS, I DARE YOU TO FIND A MAN WHO LOVES HIS CHILDREN MORE THAN THIS, YES HE DID MAKE YOUTHFUL MISTAKES, BUT LOOK AT THE COURT RECORDS. HE HAS NOT HAD ANY CHARGES SINCE THE DAY HE GOT CUSTODY OF BOTH CHILDREN. HIS PAST IS HIS PAST. LEAVE IT ALONE, JUDGE NOT LEST YOU BE JUDGED. FUTHERMORE, WHEN HALEIGH WAS IN THE CUSTODY OF CRYSTAL SHE MISSED 12 DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS. CRYSTAL CLAIMS TO HAVE LOST CUSTODY BECAUSE SHE DID NOT HAVE A RIDE TO COURT. IF SOMEONE WAS TAKING MY KIDS FROM ME, I WOULD WALK TO COURT. SHE HAS NOT PAID ONE DIME OF CHILD SUPPORT IN ALL THE YEARS THAT RONALD HAS HAD THE KIDS AND TOLD NANCY GRACE THAT IT WAS NOT HER RESPONSIBILITY TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT, THAT SHE CARRIED THEM FOR 9 MONTHS AND GAVE BIRTH TO THEM.

Kathy March 24, 2009, 11:42 AM

I under all given circumstances, on both side do not believe that either parent deserves custody, however I do think that at this point in time due to what has already happened to Haleigh because of Rons poor judgement leaving his children in the care of a child, is most disturbing to me. I hope that the son is taken away from him for sure, and given back to his mom, at this point in time she does seem to appear more stable, and that is not saying to much. But Misty is a child herself in every way even the way she speaks, laughing and seeming so very proud of getting married to Ron, while Haleigh is still missing, and claiming thats what Haleigh would have wanted, I do not think Haleigh could know what she really wants at 5yrs old do you?, nut I do think it is what Misty wanted, and god only knows what her reasoning could be, grow up first Ron, and Misty then maybe you could have had a chance at parenting., you both need parenting yourselves.

Tracy March 24, 2009, 11:51 AM

Thanks Lisa - I was waiting for someone that actually knew these people personally to say something. I don’t know why, but for some reason I just don’t think Ron had anything to do with her disappearance. And if what you say is true, that he has had no criminal charges against him since he gained custody of the children, these accusations should all be put in his past. And like you, I would have walked to the court house if it meant getting my kids back. I feel very sad for all involved. I don’t understand everyone being so upset by Misty’s age, wasn’t Crystal about 17 when she started having these kids? I was 19 when I had my daughter and have raised my kids mostly on my own and they are 19 & 14 now, it’s not that hard and age doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it, it’s love for your kids which I don’t feel Crystal had otherwise she would have fought like hell to keep them. Ron was working to support his kids and had someoene there at the house who he thought was responsible enough to watch over them. Unfortunately, something went horribly wrong. I just hope they had nothing to do with it.

linda March 24, 2009, 12:01 PM

This whole case is strange, but for the biological mother to be suing for custody now is a total sham.She only wants to get out of child support, why does she not cry and ask for helf finding her missing daughter instead of getting on tv and blasting the father of HER KIDS. He was good enough for her to sleep with, get pregnant not once but twice by him but now he is the DEVIl, she is totally full of CRAP. She only wants publicity for herself not her missing child, and her lawyer should be ashamed trying to convince people that those photos are child abuse, give me a break, I have four lively healthy grandkids and they get bruises, cuts and scrapes all the time and they and they are definatley not abused.


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