Saturday marks the 7th birthday of Summer Wells, and nearly 20 month since she was reported missing, but Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the case has’t gone cold.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t check up on something on this case,” Lawson told the Review Wednesday. “It’s definitely not a cold case, and everything is still on the table. Nobody wants to find her more than we do.”
Lawson noted, however that there is not a lot of new informaton or credible new leads.
“We’ve always got hope that we can find her,” Lawson said.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation public information officer Leslie Earhart issued a statement this week acknowledging Summer’s 7th birthday, and the fact the search for her continues.
“February 4th, is Summer Wells’ 7th birthday,” Earhart said. “She’s now been missing for nearly 20 months. The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Summer Wells remains active and ongoing. While we are frustrated at the lack of answers, we haven’t given up, and we won’t.”
Earhart asks anyone with information about Summer’s disapearance or whereabouts to please call 1-800-TBI-FIND with credible information.
Reported missing June 15, 2021
Summer was 5-year-old at the time she was reported missing from her home on Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek community on June 15, 2021. Her disappearance resulted in massive, 13-day search involving more than 1,100 searchers, not including police, and covering 4.6 square miles of rugged, mountainous terrain surrounding her home.
This was followed by months of intense investigation by the Hawkins Co. Sheriff’s Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Police and rescuers again descended on the property during the last week of November, 2021 and covered approximately 350 acres. A dive team with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in searching a nearby pond. Searchers returned to Beech Creek in Late February, 2022 for another search of the area.
Neither the searches nor the investigation have resulted in information leading to Summer’s recovery or what happened to her.
Cut off from their sons
Summer’s parents Don and Candus Wells posted a scathing letter about the Department of Children’s Services on their Wells family official website. According to Don and Candus the DCS refused to let them visit or communicate with their three sons.
DCS doesn’t allow its reports or investigations involving minors to be released publicly, so there is no information available about why DCS isn’t letting Don and Candus communicate their sons.
Donald Wells served six months in jail in 2022 stemming from a 2021 conviction for possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and a later arrest for DUI which violated his probation.
On their website Don and Candus Wells state, “We are so grateful that we are being told that our boys are being well cared for by a helpful family. We do not understand how we are different than other American Families in that we cannot talk to our Boys, or send them letters, and other types of communication. We have no charges against us concerning our daughter Summer Wells. We have no child abuse case against us. We support the Tennessee Senate and State Representatives that are trying to fix what they call, in various words, a broken (DCS) system. One day we would love to spend our lives together again with our Sons. Right now we just want to be able to communicate with our Sons and let them know how much we love them.
On the website Don and Candus further state, “We have had some helpful people at the DCS. But somewhere the system has cut us off completely from our Boys. As we try to restrain our emotions in 2023, the strain since June 15, 2021 can be unbearable. We love our boys with all our heart and feel that regardless of the trauma our family shared together and now separately, we should be able to communicate with our sons, with each other. We all lost Summer. I wish their were words to convey this.”