ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — In February, Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson told News Channel 11 that the Wells family had lawyers and was not cooperating.
The lead investigator for the Summer Wells case explained how that and the fact Summer’s father is in jail on unrelated charges have been factors in the investigation.
“The family has attorneys involved, and that is not a direct line of communication,” said Detective John Pruitt with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).
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That tone is quite the change from what it was last year when Summer was first reported missing in June.
“It was pretty good,” he recalled. “We would show up about every day and make sure they were OK — had a decent line of communication with them.”
About a month later in July 2021, Child Protective Services removed Summer’s three older brothers from their home and appointed attorneys to the case.
“They have been appointed for other instances but it bleeds over into this investigation as well,” Pruitt explained.
When asked about Summer’s father, Don Wells, being in jail on unrelated charges, Pruitt said that played no role in the investigation.
On Feb. 7, a judge ordered Don Wells to serve the remainder of his 11 months and 29-day sentence in the Hawkins County Jail for driving under the influence and violation of his probation.
“With Mr. Wells, he knows when he first came into the institution; he knows that anytime he wants to talk to let their staff know, and I’ll get to him as quick as I can,” Pruitt said. “The lines of communication between me and the family have changed, but I hope that they understand that they can come talk to me at any time they want to.”