More than a decade before 5-year-old Summer Wells seemingly vanished without a trace, her aunt also went missing—and was never found.
And now Summer’s dad says the disappearance of Rose Bly haunts him when he thinks about his daughter.
“When you see cases like that, that’s why I lose hope in Summer,” Donald Wells told WJHL. “I want to keep hope, but sometimes I just lose hope and I think, ‘Well, maybe we’ll never see her again.”
It’s been more than two weeks since Summer went missing from her Rogersville, Tennessee, home while her mother briefly left her alone, the family says.
Grueling searches have turned up no sign of the girl, and authorities this week began scaling back the operation—though they insist they will not stop looking for Summer.
Summer’s maternal aunt, Rose Bly, disappeared from Wisconsin in 2009, and police there never stopped looking, either.
On the 10th anniversary of the case, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office put out a video in which Rose’s mother, Candus Harer, who is also Summer’s grandmother, talked about the heartache.
“There’s a hole in your heart that can’t be filled. And it’s just an impossible journey every day to wake up and wonder where she is,” Harer says in the 2019 video.
“To try to figure out where my daughter is—it’s just horrible, it’s not a good feeling.”
According to an FBI bulletin, Rose Bly was a 21-year-old newlywed mother when she was last seen leaving home in St. Croix Falls. She planned to meet a cousin for drinks, but never made it, according to the Leader-Register.
Her white Pontiac Grand Am four-door was found five days later in a parking lot used by tractor-trailers, 30 miles from her home. There was no sign of any struggle.
Authorities said there is no reason to think the two cases are in any way connected, but interest in Summer’s disappearance has led members of the public to dig up Rose Bly’s case.
“Certainly, we will help any way we can to work towards closure for both cases—you know if there’s anything we can do to help,” Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak told WJLH.