CHURCH HILL — The number of tips about a missing Hawkins County girl has grown, as have donations to a reward fund held locally.
Summer Wells, 5, of the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County, was first reported missing on June 15.
The tip count with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as of Thursday afternoon stood at 750, TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said via email.
Meanwhile, reward money sent to the Church Hill Rescue Squad has reached $37,350, Capt. Tim Coup of the rescue squad said via email on Thursday.
Summer was reported missing from her family’s Beech Creek home near the Sullivan County line at about 6:30 p.m. on June 15. She is white, weighs about 40 pounds, is three feet tall and has blonde hair and blue eyes.
WHAT ARE LATEST DETAILS OF REWARD MONEY?
The $37,350 includes $2,350 in an account at Civis Bank in Church Hill that the rescue squad established, Coup said in the email.
The remaining $35,000 is in two checks held by the rescue squad, said Coup, commander of search operations for Summer Wells. All the reward money is to go to anyone providing information leading to the location of Summer, her discovery and/or recovery.
Coup said in an email he will provide future updates on the reward funds “at least once if not twice a week” but that no balance updates would come from the bank.
“We currently have $2,350 that has been donated and placed into the account. Along with this money that people have deposited into the bank there have been two individuals” who have written separate checks, Coup said. He said one check was for $25,000 and the other for $10,000.
“These checks have not been and will not be deposited into the account unless asked to do so by the individuals that wrote them,” Coup said.
As far as the money in the Civis account, Coup wrote that “if no credible leads and/or tips come in for the location/recovery of Summer Wells then that money will be donated by Church Hill Rescue Squad to the Child Advocacy Center in Mosheim.” The timeline on that is six months.
WHO GAVE TWO LARGEST DONATIONS?
Kingsport resident David P. Garrahan gave a check for $25,000, first via the U.S. mail to the Kingsport Times News. He specified it was to be given to whomever provides information leading to Summer, but if the money isn’t awarded in six months Garrahan asked that the check be given to the Hawkins County Child Advocacy Center.
Storage Source One Self-Storage of Kingsport and Jonesborough later added a check for $10,000, a company spokesman said on Thursday, but without it being directed to the advocacy center if no one gets the reward.
Both the $25,000 and $10,000 checks were written with the “Pay to the order of” line blank so that could be filled in with the name of the person giving the “credible tip or information for the location/recovery of Summer Wells,” Coup wrote.
Other reward offers on social media have not gone through the rescue squad.
WHAT IS CASE BACKGROUND?
“Summer Wells has now been missing from the Beech Creek community in Hawkins County for two weeks and two days,” TBI Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said in a social media post on Thursday afternoon.
“We aren’t giving up,” Earhart wrote. “Anyone with first-hand information about Summer’s disappearance is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND (which is 1-800-824-3463) or email TipsToTBI@tn.gov.”
TBI officials have asked that social media rumors and speculation not be submitted as tips. But the TBI on June 26 asked that the driver of a red or burgundy 1998-2000 Toyota pickup truck, with a ladder rack on the back and plastic buckets in the bed, contact the TBI about what the driver may have seen June 14 or June 15.
The family home on Ben Hill Road, near Beech Creek Road, has a Rogersville address but is closer to Kingsport and Church Hill than the Rogersville city limits. The family attends the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Kingsport.
Daily media briefings and extensive ground searches in Beech Creek have halted.