By KELLEY L. ALLEN Staff Writer | Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 12:00 am
SALISBURY - Several men from the Grasonville and Easton volunteer fire departments helped search
Christmas Day for Sarah Haley Foxwell, an incident that prompted calls for tighter laws to protect
Sarah disappeared Tuesday night from her Salisbury home, allegedly with a man a child witness called
"Tommy." Thomas James Leggs Jr., 30, of 30461 Bennett Road in Salisbury is held without bond in
the Wicomico County Detention Center on burglary and kidnapping charges. Leggs had previously
dated Sarah's aunt, who was the 11-year-old's legal guardian.
Search crews found Sarah's body Christmas Day near the Delaware State line news that devastated
searchers and communities across the Eastern Shore.
"It's so hard for something like that to happen to anybody, but especially a child they're innocent," said
Justin Davis of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department. Davis, along with Wes Logue, Tom and Andrew
Sheahan and Art Eisenstein, headed down to Salisbury early Christmas morning to help search for the
The team searched about a six-mile grid, signed up to come back later that night or Saturday if needed,
and left. As the crew pulled out onto the highway, the men saw the helicopters hovering.
"We were at the parking lot and saw the state police getting in the Dauphines," Davis said. "When we
saw the helicopters hovering, we figured they had something."
Easton Fire Department 1st Lt. Sonny Jones and his crew had already made it back home when he
heard the news.
"I think everyone grieved in their own way," Jones said.
The Easton crew searched about a five-yard by two-mile grid around Zion Church Road and left
Salisbury by lunch time. Jones estimated about 3,000 people helped search that day.
"It's a matter of priorities," Jones said. "You have a family that isn't complete and is missing a member.
I think everybody had the same objective to try to find this girl and return her home, alive or
Jones called Davis on Christmas Eve, and the men formed the two groups to help with the search. No
one called either department the men heard the call for help on the news and responded. Jones is also
a deputy with the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office and former member of the Kent Island
Volunteer Fire Department.
"I told the guys here, we're not doing it for thank-yous," Davis said. "I felt kind of obligated. If it were
my child, I would want people to help, too."
And many of the men have children, which made the day difficult.
"I don't know how to explain it," Davis said. "Everybody wanted to find her, but didn't want to be the
one to find her. It's hard to deal with. We've got young kids too, which made it a little bit harder.
"But it was nice to see so many people. I didn't expect to see so many people there."
The experience has pushed Davis into advocacy he wants to start a search team and hopes to lobby for
tighter laws for registered sex offenders.
Leggs is registered in Maryland and Delaware, and has had sex offense charges at least five times
since 1997. The Delaware registry describes him as "high risk."
"That guy should never have been out of jail it's ridiculous," Davis said.
Anyone interested in helping with a search team or with lobbying for change can contact Davis at the
fire department at 410-827-8100.
Davis is not the only one looking for changes in Maryland law as a result of Sarah's kidnapping and
Jerry Norton, head of Citizens for Jessica's Law in Maryland, told The Baltimore Sun the case is
evidence that child protection laws need to be tougher.
And Del. Mike Smigiel, R-36-Cecil, says he's "seething" over the case and is considering laws ranging
from cracking down on plea bargains to allowing the wiretapping of sex offenders.
Volunteers from additional fire departments also are believed to have helped Friday with the search.
A Dorchester County 911 center operator said volunteers from additional fire departments helped
with the search, but could not confirm which ones. And a Hurlock fire department spokesman said a
few members headed down in their personal vehicles.
A spokesman at the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office referred questions to Chief Deputy Baker,
who was not in the office Sunday.
No date has been set for a memorial service for Sarah, whose body was taken to the Office of the
Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
John Holloway of Holloway Funeral Home in Salisbury told WBOC-TV that local donors have paid
for Sarah's funeral. Holloway says the donors want to remain anonymous.