ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (Nexstar) – Search efforts have resumed for Summer Wells who disappeared from her home in Hawkins County on Tuesday.
Dozens of first responders from more than 40 agencies are combing the hills and mountains around Ben Hill Road in northeast Tennessee searching for the 5-year-old blonde who remains the subject of a statewide AMBER Alert.
Leslie Earhart, spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said in a Friday press conference that 85 tips have been received since the child went missing. Community in the region were asked to check sheds and outdoor buildings, as well as game cameras.
“We welcome information, but please don’t share speculation and rumors seen on social media,” Earhart said.
Dive teams have been added to the search. Captain Tim Coup with the Church Hill Rescue Squad is serving as incident commander for ground search operations.
“There are numerous streams and creeks, lots of ponds and holding spots for livestock that we feel are just as important to search as the rest,” Coup said. “We want to flip every rock, check every crevice to make sure we don’t miss a spot.”
Coup said despite the challenging terrain, people searching for the 5 year old told him, “We will not stop.”
As of Thursday night, Coup said crews covered 680 acres, and they plan to have 1,000 acres covered by Friday night. The terrain is causing teams to be exhausted quickly, he said.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said multiple searches have been conducted but all were with consent, so no warrants have been necessary.
“Everything is still on the table. We are trying to find out what happened to this young lady and we’re not going to stop until we find her,” Lawson said.
Summer’s father, Don Wells, spoke with Nexstar’s News Channel 11 about the disappearance of his daughter.
“She was planting flowers with her mother and her grandmother and she wanted to go into the house, so my wife watched her go into the door and she went into the house,” said Wells. “And the boys were on the internet of course, and she wanted to go downstairs and play with her toys. So when her mother [came] in and she says, ‘Summer ‘ and she went down into the basement and she didn’t answer. So she went down there and she was gone. So she went out the basement door, which was unlocked, and we haven’t seen her since.”
Wells said he believes his daughter may have been kidnapped. “We know she wouldn’t leave the property, she doesn’t do that.”
“As we’ve stated before, the circumstances surrounding Summer’s disappearance remain unclear,” Earhart said during a Thursday AMBER Alert briefing. “If we do develop information that she was taken and we develop a suspect.”
Also on Thursday, Coup addressed the question – if Summer wandered off, why did somebody not see her?
“This part of the community, the residents are very spread out. Some being from one hilltop to the other hilltop, or at the start of the road and you might go a mile before you ever get to another residence, making that very difficult for residents just to be able to be at home while outside working or something and notice her leaving that area,” said Coup.
On Wednesday, TBI issued an AMBER Alert for Summer after initially issuing an Endangered Child Alert Tuesday night when she was reported missing. The agency chose to upgrade the alert because of “new information and growing concern.”
Summer Moon-Utah Wells is 3-feet tall with blonde hair who is believed to be barefoot. She was last seen Tuesday walking near her home in the Beech Creek community wearing a pink shirt and gray shorts.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, investigators asked people living in the area to check out buildings and storage sheds for any sign of the missing child.
Sheriff Lawson said, on Wednesday, the family is cooperating in the investigation but declined to answer questions about any issues within the home.
“We’re going to continue on until we find Summer and put this case to rest,” Lawson explained.
The AMBER Alert lists the following details for Summer.
- Age: 5
- Sex: Female
- Race: White
- Hair: Blonde Eyes: Blue
- Height: 3′
- Weight: 40 lbs.
- NCIC: M476287498
- Missing From: Rogersville, Tennessee
- Missing Since: June 15, 2021
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office at 423-272-7121 or the TBI at 800-TBI-FIND.