Tennessee police said Thursday that they are “frustrated” by the lack of clarity in the disappearance of 5-year-old Summer Wells—who was last seen planting flowers in her garden before she vanished.
“While every case is different, this one is definitely outside of the norm,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Leslie Earhart said at a briefing on the progress, or lack of it, in the case.
“Typically in an investigation like this one, we have some idea of where the case is headed and what might have happened within a few days. In this situation, despite doing everything within our power and exploring all avenues, the circumstances leading to Summer’s disappearance remain unclear.”
Authorities say Summer’s family has been cooperating. Her mother, Candus Bly, took and passed a polygraph, according to her husband, Donald Wells. Meanwhile, his criminal record, which includes a 2020 arrest for domestic assault, has come under scrutiny.
“We’ve worked it out, she’s apologized to me,” Wells, who pleaded guilty to gun possession under the influence in connection with the incident, said of Bly.
“She’s went to the district attorneys, she even went to judge and told them she made a serious mistake and that’s the end of it.”
Summer was last seen June 15 at her home in Rogersville.
“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,” her father told WJHL.
Wells said, “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.”
“Some bad person grabbed her, but we have no idea,” said Wells. “The FBI and the police have covered every single place, everything that anybody can think of, they’ve covered.”
Search crews have inspected 4.6 square miles, using aerial and ground crews; they have scoured waterways and have spoken to anyone in the area the day of the disappearance. More than 300 tips have come in but none has yielded significant information.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Capt. Tim Coup said his search crews are drained from the painstaking work.
“I’ve had most of my guys come up to me and tell me: ‘Captain, I’ll go to the end. But I’m tired. I am physically and I am mentally tired,’” Coup said, adding: “We will not quit until we find Summer Wells.”
Asked if police think it’s possible Summer is still alive, Earhart said, “We typically would have found a child at this stage in the investigation, so honestly, we just don’t know.”
She added, “I understand the lack of answers frustrates you and the public, but trust me, no one is more frustrated than we are.”