Missing Five-Year-Old Intrigues Web Surfers

There has been an Internet boom of sorts spurred on by a particular topic, which would ordinarily be good news, except that the reason for the Internet boom is the tragic disappearance of a five-year-old girl from Satsuma, Fla., Jacksonville.com reports.

Haleigh Cummings vanished from a mobile home where she was living with a younger brother, their father and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin, according to Jacksonville.com, and her story has spread across the World Wide Web.

Ellen Johnson, a 46-year-old petroleum engineer in east Texas, set up Twitter account HaleighNewz to chronicle the case and traveled to Florida for a school-supply drive for Cummings’ classmates, Jacksonville.com reported.

Johnson told Jacksonville.com:

You are interacting with the people themselves. There is not that distance between them and you. On some level, I felt compassion for them.

A blog following the Cummings case, Watts Up With This???, was created by broadcast producer and journalist Steph Watts, who has worked with Court TV, CNN and Fox, according to Jacksonville.com.

Watts told Jacksonville.com:

What the Internet has done is taken those local stories and made them national stories. I think people are feeling that they can become part of the story by weighing in. This is like a high-speed letter to the editor.

Another blog, Justice4haleigh, launched Tuesday, and it was created by Kathy Schmidt, 42, a mother of three in Madison, Wis., according to Jacksonville.com.

Schmidt told Jacksonville.com:

Nobody is really in charge of anything. They just get a following. She didn’t get treated right and she didn’t deserve this. I don’t really see anybody fighting for Haleigh on either side. If it was you, I’d want someone fighting for you. Haleigh didn’t just walk out of that trailer for the rest of her life.

The bloggers and tweeters aren’t running afoul of law enforcement, as Lt. Johnny Greenwood of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office told Jacksonville.com Harris and Watts check information and have not caused heartburn for investigators, adding, “The only thing that is really discouraging is those bloggers who have bad information.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
Publish date: October 20, 2009 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/missing-five-year-old-intrigues-web-surfers/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT