Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include clarification on search efforts for Summer Wells. Investigators will end ground efforts each night at 8 p.m. EST and resume in the morning.
On Thursday afternoon, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation held a briefing to discuss the latest in the ongoing search for Summer.
“We had hoped to have good news to share with you by now, but unfortunately we do not,” TBI’s Public Information Officer, Leslie Earhart said.
“Everyone continues to ask if she wandered off, why did somebody not see her,” said Church Hill Rescue Squad Captain Tim Coup. “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.”
Coup explained why they are not asking for volunteers to help in the search, “Due to the extreme terrain, the nature of this, trying to locate her, trained professionals [are] what we need at this time to make sure that these residents don’t become endangered…and expand this issue with having to search for somebody else.”
TBI tweeted out photos of the terrain involved in the search area for Summer Wells Thursday afternoon.
Investigators announced that ground search efforts will cease at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, and resume efforts Friday morning.
“As we’ve stated before, the circumstances surrounding Summer’s disappearance remain unclear,” said Earhart. “If we do develop information that she was taken and we develop a suspect and a vehicle description…we will share that immediately. At this time, that’s just not the case.”
Earhart added that they have received nearly 50 leads so far, but none have panned out so far. “The longer this goes, the more concerned we get.”
Investigators confirmed that Wells’ father has a criminal history.
“Everybody’s a person of interest till we find Summer,” said Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson.
Teams have been assisted by AT&T and Verizon cell signal boosters to combat communication issues experienced in the area.
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 outbuildings and storage sheds for any sign of the missing child.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said more than 100 first responders were combing the areas near Summer’s home, which is about 15 miles southwest of Kingsport. He said the area is “very dense, a hard area to search” with very little radio communication possible.
The family is cooperating in the investigation, Lawson said, but declined to answer questions about any issues within the home. He added it was too early to tell if there was any foul play involved in the child’s disappearance.
“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.