ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — It has been five months and there is still no sign of 5-year-old Summer Wells.
The Tennessee girl’s parents reported her missing the evening of Tuesday, June 15, when she disappeared from their Hawkins County home in rural Northeast Tennessee.
On that afternoon, Summer was helping her mother and grandmother plant flowers. She then reportedly went into the house, where her brothers were playing.
“So when her mother come in and she says, ‘Where’s Summer?’ She went down in the basement, she didn’t answer so she went down there, and she was gone,” said Summer’s father, Don Wells.
Searchers converged on the rural area and a statewide Amber Alert was issued the next day.
“I hope God in his mercy will deliver Summer home to us,” Wells said.
For weeks, people searched for the missing girl on the ground, from the air and in the water.
“I assure you, we’ve done everything,” Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said. “From the manpower, the search, helicopters, the airplanes, tremendous amount of dogs, cadaver dogs, search dogs, search and rescue teams.”
Chris McDonough, a retired homicide detective turned podcaster, joined NewsNation Prime to discuss the case.
On June 26, authorities announced they were looking for the driver of a red or maroon Toyota pickup truck with ladders on the back, which may have been in the area on the night of Summer’s disappearance. The driver has never come forward.
Investigators also asked anyone with trail cameras or outbuildings to check for signs Summer could have been in the area.
They haven’t found any evidence of a kidnapping.
“Nothing pointing to abduction, nothing pointing to foul play, other than her walking out, outside the house and not being found, is basically the main thing right now,” Lawson said. “What actually happened to her … we’re still trying to find out.”
In July, social services took Summer’s three brothers from the home without revealing why.
In October, Don Wells was arrested on a DUI charge, adding to a list of criminal charges in three states including a domestic assault arrest in 2020.
Summer’s mother filed for an order of protection, saying, “I am afraid for my children and myself,” but later asked for it to be dismissed.
Wells spoke with NewsNation’s Brian Entin on Monday. Summer’s mom, Candus Bly, did not want to talk.
Entin asked Don Wells if Bly might be nervous or know more information about what happened to Summer.
“No, because she knows better,” Wells said. “She would know to go directly to law enforcement. An accident is one thing. She wouldn’t ever do something like that. She knows better. I know it happens, It does happen with people. But no, she would go directly to law enforcement. She’d call an ambulance right away.”
Entin pressed Wells on the possibility Bly may have unintentionally put herself in a bad situation.
“No, she’s a good mother,” he said. “She loves her children. She’s not going to allow any situation like that. The biggest mistakes she might have made is maybe choosing some wrong friends, which is, you know, it happens.”
The entire exchange will air on NewsNation on Tuesday evening.