Timeline of the search for Summer Wells
HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The search continues for missing Hawkins County 5-year-old Summer Utah Moon Wells.
More than 100 personnel and 41 agencies have been involved in the search for Wells since she was reported missing from her home in the Beech Creek community Tuesday night.
Below is a timeline listing some of the key events in the search for the missing child:
(Times are approximate)
Summer reported missing
- Summer Wells was reported missing from her home on Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County around 6:30 p.m., according to authorities. Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said she was last seen wearing a pink shirt and grey shorts.
- Lawson later said that around 60–80 people participated in the initial search Tuesday night. The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Aviation Unit and Ballad Health’s HEART air service provided aerial support. Other agencies involved in the search: Church Hill Rescue Squad, Hawkins County County Rescue, Hawkins County EMA, Hawkins County EMS, Hawkins County E-911, Hawkins County Sheriffs Office, and Goshen Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
12:07 a.m. – Endangered Child Alert issued
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an endangered child alert for Summer. The TBI also posted more photos of the missing child.
11 a.m. – AMBER Alert issued in Tennessee for Summer
Citing “new information and growing concern about the well-being of Summer Wells,” the TBI upgraded the endangered child alert to a statewide AMBER Alert.
4 p.m. – Press conference
- Officials held the first press conference regarding the disappearance of Summer Wells.
- Sheriff Lawson said Wednesday’s search involved more than 100 people from 19 agencies. He also said the FBI was assisting.
- The sheriff said it was too early to determine if foul play was involved but noted that Summer’s family was cooperating with law enforcement.
- Lawson also mentioned that communications issues were making the search more difficult. He said there was virtually no cell phone service.
- TBI Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart encouraged Beech Creek residents to check trail cameras and any potential hiding places, such as crawl spaces and sheds, on their property.
8:24 p.m. – TBI: No suspect or vehicle
In a tweet, the TBI said it does not have a suspect or a vehicle description in connection to Summer’s disappearance. However, the agency said it developed such information it would share it with the public immediately.
10:04 p.m. – 30 tips so far
The TBI said in a tweet that it had received 30 tips as of Wednesday evening, over 24 hours after Summer was first reported missing.
1 p.m. – Press conference
- Officials held their second press conference.
- Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said “everybody is a person of interest” and “everything is on the table” regarding the investigation into Summer’s disappearance. TBI spokesperson Leslie Earhardt said the circumstances surrounding her disappearance remained unclear. She added that if investigators did develop information that the child was taken and develop a suspect and vehicle description, that information would be immediately shared with the public.
- Ground search crews had covered a one-mile radius around Summer’s residence so far. Crews hoped to have a two-mile radius covered by the end of the day, over 48 hours since she was first reported missing.
- Officials said they had received and pursued about 50 leads so far.
Summer’s father issues first statement
Don Wells, Summer’s father, said in a statement to WJHL that Summer would “never leave our hill” and that he believes “someone snuck up on her and grabbed her.”
“We know that there’s people praying all around the world praying for her safe return. So many people love her. She would never leave our hill. I think that someone snuck up on her and grabbed her. I don’t think she’s in the area because the dog goes down to the road and that’s the end of the trail, but I don’t know that for a fact. The way that she just disappeared, she would never do that.”
Don Wells, Summer’s father
Summer’s father speaks on-camera to reporters
- Speaking to reporters, Summer’s father, Don Wells, thanked the community and the emergency personnel searching for Summer.
- Wells also spoke about the evening his daughter was reported missing.
“She was planting flowers with her mother and her grandmother and she wanted to go into the house, so my wife watched her go into the door and she went into the house. And the boys were on the internet of course, and she wanted to go downstairs and play with her toys. So when her mother [came] in and she says ‘Summer,‘ and she went down into the basement and she didn’t answer. So she went down there and she was gone. So she went out the basement door, which was unlocked, and we haven’t seen her since.”
Don Wells, Summer’s father
2:30 p.m. – Press conference
- Officials held their third press conference since Summer was reported missing.
- They announced that more resources were brought in to assist in the search, including a dive team, hazardous terrain search team, urban search and rescue team, and the state’s tactical radio system.
- Thursday’s search effort involved more than 100 people from 41 agencies. Searchers had covered 688 acres and received 85 tips so far. They would cover around 1,000 acres by the end of the day.
- TBI Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said “all avenues are being explored” regarding the circumstances behind Summer’s disappearance. She also encouraged people to not share speculation and rumors on social media.
- Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said that no search warrants had been issued as every search so far had been conducted with the consent of the property owner.
7 p.m. – Vigil held in Rogersville for Summer
- A Rogersville church opened its doors Friday evening for those wanting to pray for Summer, about 72 hours after she was reported missing.
- Summer’s father, Don Wells, and one of her brothers attended the vigil. Don said he was at work when his wife called to tell him that Summer was missing on Tuesday and that he rushed home to find his boys and neighbors searching for his daughter.
113 tips as the search continues
The TBI said it had received 113 tips as of Saturday afternoon as searchers continued the search for Summer. The agency also shared more photos of the Wells’ residence.
Hawkins County 911 announced that a statewide call out was requested through the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads for Sunday regarding the search for Summer.
Crews respond to new lead
- Ground crews were seen combing a field with flashlights Saturday night as a helicopter flew overhead.
- The TBI said that its agents and Hawkins County investigators responded to the location near Beech Creek Road to follow up on a lead, but Summer remained missing.
- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that it had received 137 tips as of Sunday afternoon. Summer Wells has not been found, and has been missing for five days.
- According to the Hawkins County Rescue Squad, 35 agencies from Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia assisted in the search Sunday. About 2,400 acres had been searched since Tuesday night.
Anyone with information on Summer Wells’ whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.
This is a developing story. Download the WJHL News app for updates sent to your phone.