Tips in the case of a missing Hawkins County girl continue to flow to law enforcement, but authorities reported no new developments in the search or case 14 days after her disappearance was reported.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as of Tuesday afternoon had received 650 tips in the search for Summer Wells, reported missing from her family’s home in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County the evening of June 15.
Wednesday will mark the 15th day since Summer, a 5-year-old girl with blond hair and blue eyes and standing 3 feet tall, was reported missing. And while the TBI is still urging tips, it also is asking people not to share speculation or rumors as tips.
“We urge the public to share info from credible sources. Sharing speculation or rumors only makes the process more difficult for law enforcement by increasing the number of non-credible tips,” TBI Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said in a statement shared on social media late Tuesday afternoon.
On Saturday, the TBI announced it wanted to talk with the driver of a red or burgundy Toyota pickup truck, 1998-2000 model, with a ladder rack and white buckets in the bed. The TBI said the driver wasn’t a suspect but was being sought to be questioned about what he or she may have seen June 14-15.
“Many of the tips that have come in over the last few days are related to the vehicle,” Earhart said in an email interview Tuesday afternoon. “However, others are a result of speculation and rumors being shared on social media. That continues to be a problem.”
Anyone who has seen Summer or has information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 272-7121 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND, which is (800) 824-3463.
A reward from a Kingsport man for $25,000 has been offered for information leading to her return. It is being put into an account overseen by the Church Hill Rescue Squad and will be donated to the Hawkins County Child Advocacy Center if not claimed in six months.
The TBI announced on Sunday it was scaling back the search for Summer following a multi-state effort including agencies ranging from the Church Hill Rescue Squad to the FBI. And the TBI and local authorities have for now ended the practice of having media briefings at a church near the Wells’ home, on Ben Hill Road near Beech Creek Road.
Although the area has a Rogersville mailing address, it is closer to Kingsport. It is near where Sullivan and Hawkins counties meet, not far from Greene County, and part of the area where Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson once urged property owners to check their own buildings and land.
However, other than those checks Lawson requested last week, authorities have asked that folks don’t do their own searches for Summer since the tough terrain and high temperatures could adversely affect people and force emergency personnel to rescue novice searchers.