HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Five-year-old Summer Wells remains missing and officials say they are “more concerned than ever to find her.”
In an update Monday, officials said that the search continues for the child who was reported missing last Tuesday evening.
“We will not quit until we find Summer Wells,” said Capt. Tim Coup, who is overseeing ground search efforts.
Authorities are calling on property owners in the area to check any places on their property where a child might hide.
“I want to 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.”
The search effort has now involved 72 agencies and ground crews have covered around 2,400 acres so far.
Coup said aircraft 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 it is uncommon for the child to wander off.
Investigators have also reviewed residential surveillance video 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.
“Someone’s opinion or idea on Facebook is not a credible tip.“
Anyone with information regarding Wells’ whereabouts is urged to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.