HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL/WKRN) – Summer Wells has been missing for a week and officials say they are more concerned than ever to find the five-year-old Rogersville girl.
“We will not quit until we find Summer Wells,” said Captain Tim Coup of the Church Hill Rescue Squad, who is overseeing ground search efforts for Wells, the subject of a statewide AMBER Alert.
At a media briefing Monday afternoon, authorities called on property owners in the area to check any places on their property where a child might hide.
“I want the word to get out to all the residents in the upper Beech Creek community, Hawkins County, and Sullivan County…we need the residents to go back today, tonight, tomorrow, as soon as possible and check their entire property — any outbuildings, any barns, any place a child could hide,” Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said. “We desperately need you to do that for us. It’s easier for you to check your own property than it is to send officers there.”
There have been 72 agencies involved in search efforts from Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Ground crews have covered around 2,400 acres so far since the search began for Summer Moon-Utah Wells last week.
Coup said aircraft units are being used to keep an eye on the area overnight when the ground search effort is paused unless crews are following up on a lead.
“At the evening time, it is too treacherous and too dangerous, unless TBI or the sheriff’s department gets a lead that they need us to go help assist on,” Coup said. “Too dangerous for us to keep our guys up in these mountains in this treacherous terrain at nighttime. But I want you guys to know, and rest assured, along with the community, that search efforts due to not stop when it gets dark.”
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said the circumstances leading to Summer Wells’ disappearance “remain unclear,“ but investigators continue to pursue all leads. She also said drivers who were in the area around the time Wells was reported missing have been identified and interviewed.
“While we’ve not ruled out an abduction, we simply do not have any evidence at this point to confirm that’s what occurred,” Earhart said. “For that reason, the ground search for Summer continues. It’s possible that she wandered off and is lost and afraid.”
Earhart said the parents told investigators Summer didn’t have a history of wandering off. Investigators have also reviewed residential surveillance videos and photos from the area.
As of Monday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had received 150 tips. Earhart said dealing with rumors and speculation is “always a battle.”
“We find that we’re receiving a lot of tips that is a screenshot from Facebook, it’s an opinion or speculation — that’s not a credible tip and it just bogs down the system,” Earhart said.
“Summer is still missing and we are more concerned than ever to find her,” Earhart said.
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 reported missing.
The TBI AMBER Alert reports Summer’s appearance as follows:
- 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.