HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (Nexstar) – Officials searching for missing Rogersville five-year-old Summer Wells held their first AMBER Alert briefing since June 21 on Thursday afternoon.
“There’s still two aspects of this case, the active search and the investigation,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer, Leslie Earhart.
Earhart said authorities are working around the clock to determine what happened to Wells.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, we can’t discuss everything we are doing, and have done, to find Summer,” said Earhart.
Despite all efforts in the investigation, Earhart said the circumstances leading to Summer’s disappearance, “remain unclear.”
“While every case is different, this one is definitely outside of the norm.”
There have been 106 agencies involved in search efforts from Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Crews have covered over 3,000 acres, roughly 4.6 square miles, so far since the search began for Summer Moon-Utah Wells last week.
“We will not quit until we find Summer Wells,” said Incident Commander of Ground Search, Captain Tim Coup.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson stressed reaching out to officials with important information, rather than relying on social media, “I know there’s a lot of social media [posts] going on out there – but they are absolutely useless unless these people, that are 100% positive, call 1-800-TBI-FIND, that means nothing.”
Earhart said officials are holding out hope as they do everything they can, “we typically would have found a child at this stage in the investigation, so honestly, we just don’t know.”
She added the family, “continues to cooperate at this time.”
Earhart called the lack of answers after nine days of searching heartbreaking.
“We don’t we still don’t know where Summer is, we don’t know what happened to her. And it’s extremely frustrating. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to find her, but to not have any more answers than we do at this stage, it’s just heartbreaking.”
As the search nears 10 days, Lawson said they won’t give up. “Everyone now is getting mentally, physically, emotionally, just drained. And we’re going to rehab and start back again, but we’re not going to stop. We’re gonna find Summer.”
When asked about lie detector tests, Earhart said it’s “no secret” that the TBI has a polygraph unit but didn’t discuss specifics. “I can tell you that we use that as an investigative tool. In a situation like this, we’re going to use every resource and tool available to us.”
Earlier this week Donald Wells, Summer’s father, said that his wife, Candus Bly, has passed a lie detector test.
Coup confirmed that people have reached out to officials about providing reward money for information leading to the discovery of Summer. The agency is working to get the account set up. He said they will provide more information on how the public could donate money to the account once the information is available.
Summer Moon-Utah Wells is 3-feet tall with blonde hair who is believed to be barefoot. She was last seen Tuesday, June 15 walking near her home in the Beech Creek community wearing a pink shirt and gray shorts.
On Wednesday, June 16, TBI issued an AMBER Alert for Summer after initially issuing an Endangered Child Alert the night she was reported missing.
Since then, the agency said they have received over 300 tips, though none have resulted in a “significant development in the case.”
TBI has told reporters they have not ruled out foul play in the disappearance of Summer Moon-Utah Wells.
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.