TBI Update on Summer Wells Amber Alert one year later

The 5 year was first reported missing by her family one year ago today

BEECH CREEK, Tennessee (WDEF) – It has now been one year since Summer Wells disappeared in upper East Tennessee, and investigators still have no idea what happened to her.

“At that time, no one imagined we would still be searching for her a year later.”

The TBI updated the search for the missing 5 year old (last year) saying the Amber Alert for her is still active.

They don’t have any new information to report today… just that they are still looking and the case has not gone cold.

On June 15, 2021, the little girl was first reported missing from her home on Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek Community of Hawkins County.

“There are few clues as to what happened to Summer despite investigators doing everything within their power to find answers. All possibilities are still being explored.”

Agents say over the last year, they have held three large-scale ground searches, served search warrants, analyzed cell phone data and social media accounts. More than 100 agents have been involved.

And that doesn’t include the numerous searches by local law enforcement and community members.

TBI officials say they have had to deal with many false tips and social media posts, some intentionally spread. Of the 2000 tips they have gotten so far, they say the vast majority involved speculation and rumors.  And some even solicited donations.

Because of the intense public interest, and because of a lot of misinformation, they provided this FAQ today on what’s actually true:

Is this considered a cold case? No. Investigative work continues to occur almost daily.

Is the AMBER Alert still active? Yes. An AMBER Alert remains active until a child is located.

When was Summer last seen? Her mother reports last seeing her on the afternoon of June 15th at their home in the 100 block of Ben Hill Road. In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, we will not provide additional information regarding the timeline.

Have you searched the home and property around the residence? Yes, more than once, including the basement, crawl space, all vehicles, outbuildings, barrels, and other items located on the property. Additionally, K9 teams specializing in a variety of search methods have also been utilized.

Have you searched the phones and computers belonging to the Wells family? Yes, working alongside the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, numerous subpoenas and search warrants have been obtained, resulting in any available digital evidence being collected, searched, and documented. This includes social media accounts.

Have you analyzed cell phone data? Yes. Cell phone data and cell tower data have been analyzed.

Have you searched the flower bed? There was not a flower bed. Summer’s mother and grandmother stated that she was planting flowers with them shortly before she was last seen. The flowers were planted in pots, and yes, the pots were examined.

How many ground searches have been conducted? Three large-scale searches have occurred. Dozens of other targeted searches have been conducted over the last year as a result of investigators following up on leads.

Have you searched waterways in the area? Yes. Dive teams were brought in to search bodies of water in the area on several different occasions.

Have you conducted aerial searches? Yes. Numerous searches from the air have been completed.  Additionally, drones were used to map the area and to pinpoint bodies of water as well as any other points of interest.

Will additional searches be conducted? Investigators will continue to search points of interest as they are developed as well as follow up on all tips regarding Summer’s whereabouts.

Have you collected and reviewed surveillance video? Yes. We’ve collected surveillance photos and videos from a variety of locations. Additionally, the entire area was canvased in an effort to locate any residential cameras that weren’t voluntarily reported. Please keep in mind that the Beech Creek area of Hawkins County is very rural, with few businesses and no traffic cameras.

Have you questioned the parents? Yes. Both have been questioned more than once.

Have you questioned others that were in the home at the time Summer went missing? Yes. Summer’s brothers have been interviewed along with others who stayed in the home in the months before her disappearance.

Have you questioned neighbors and searched their properties? Yes.

Have you questioned registered sex offenders in the area? Yes.

Is there evidence that Summer was abducted? None that we’ve developed at this stage. However, we continue to investigate all possibilities.

Is the FBI involved? Yes. They’ve been involved since the AMBER Alert was issued. Additionally, in the first week, the FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) team responded to the area. FBI agents continue to assist with the investigation.

Why did you release information about a Toyota Truck? An individual who travels through the area regularly as part of his job stated that he recalls possibly seeing a 1998-2000 maroon or red Toyota Tacoma, with a full bed ladder rack and white buckets in the truck bed. The individual stated that the truck might have been parked in the area of Beech Creek Road and Ben Hill Road in the late afternoon to early evening on either Monday, June 14th, or Tuesday, June 15th. That vehicle was not captured on surveillance cameras. In an effort to cover all bases and identify the driver, the TBI, in agreement with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, released the vehicle description. Our hope was that the individual might have information that could help the investigation. The driver has not come forward, nor have the hundreds of vehicles reported to us as matching the description panned out.

Despite many of the bad tips and posts, the TBI is still asking people to give them any useful information you might have.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office at 423-272-7121. Tips can be emailed to TipsToTBI@tn.gov.


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