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Father of missing five-year-old Summer Wells shows trail where he believes his daughter went missing

Don Wells invited WVLT to his home, sharing where and how he believes Summer Wells was abducted.
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It’s been more than three months since the disappearance of five-year-old Summer Wells. Don Wells invited WVLT to come to his home in Rogersville to show in detail what he thinks happened to his daughter.

Wells says he believes someone came through a wooded trail near the family home and took Summer.

”We don’t know if someone was waiting in the basement or if she come outside here and went to the swing or possibly back up there to grandma’s. We don’t know. All we know is that she went down the basement. That’s the only thing we know. To play with her toys,” shared Wells.

He said the basement door at their home was typically left open or unlocked.

“The boys a lot of times would leave this unlocked and wide open a bunch of times, and we’d get on them a lot and tell them ‘you can’t do that’ but we’d always find it open a bunch of times. We tried to control that but we couldn’t control that 100 percent of the time,” says Wells.

From there, Wells shared he feels Summer was carried down a steep and rugged trail, just a few feet away from the house.

Don says while this was happening, he was at work, his sons were inside the home and Summer’s mother and grandmother were outside of the home facing away from the basement door.

“Well I think whoever grabbed her probably had her mouth covered, and I think she was gasping for air by the time she got somewhere down here because our neighbor heard a scream. A really funny scream and she’s been telling us that all along,” says Wells.

Don says search dogs lost Summer’s scent once the trail ended at the road. From there he says he believes someone put his daughter in a car and drove off.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and multiple agencies spent several days and hundreds of hours searching for any sign of Summer. Sheriff Ronnie Lawson with Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office spoke for the first time about searching for Summer along that wooded trail.

“The dogs had a pretty good trail that tracked for a little while, but then it disappeared. They lost scent when it came to the road. Sometimes K-9′s will lose the scent when it changes different types, where they maybe went from the gravel to the pavement,” says Lawson.

Sheriff Lawson also spoke to us about the report of a scream heard by a neighbor.

“Best I recall it’s been a couple months ago and I think that was unfounded,” shared Lawson.

While walking down the steep trail, Don Wells said the area near their home has a history of drug activity.

“Well, you get all kinds with the drug trade and there are... you know…. We’ve seen quite a bit of stuff surrounding the meth thing. We had them parked in.... Our neighbors caught them parked at our road, in the driveway in the middle of the night, or early in the morning. Stuff like that and run them off, and get mad. They’d raise cane. We’d had quite a bit of problems out of them, but since we’d been all over them and everything with camera crews and whatever, it’s quiet down a lot. But it was pretty bad for quite a while,” said Wells.

Sheriff Lawson spoke about the drug activity in that area of Rogersville, saying it’s not a hotspot.

“I’ve heard rumors of there is maybe a drug dealer on that road, but it’s just like anywhere... Ben Hill Road isn’t any different than any other road in Hawkins or any other county or even Knox County. We all have drug problems, but no that’s not that problem, that’s not correct either. No, it’s a dead-end road, so there’s very little traffic, if any,” shared Lawson.

Sheriff Lawson said investigators are committed to finding Summer, and that no suspects have been ruled out in the investigation. Lawson says they’re still looking for the Toyota Tacoma that was reported to be seen in the area at the time of Summer’s disappearance.

Don Wells says he wanted to show us the trail, in hopes of Summer’s return.

”Whoever has her, have mercy and please let her come home,” shared Wells.

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