A FIVE-year-old girl who vanished from her family's Tennessee home in June has still not been found nearly five months later as mystery continues to surround the case.

Summer Moon-Utah Wells was last seen on June 15 outside of her family's home in Hawkins County's Beach Creek Community.


Summer had been in the front yard planting flowers with her mother and grandmother at the time, her father Donald previously said.

At some point around 6.30pm, Summer ventured back inside the home on her own because she "wanted to go downstairs and play with her toys", he said.

"I went down in the basement, and she was gone, so she went out the basement door, which was unlocked, and we haven't seen her since," Donald Wells said.

An AMBER Alert was issued for Summer the following day, after being upgraded from an Endangered Child Alert.

Very few updates on the case have been shared by police since and investigators have not shared any concrete theories about what may have happened to the young girl.

Donald has previously said that the family believes she was abducted, despite officials saying there is no evidence to support his claims.

ABDUCTION CLAIMS

"She would never leave our hill," he said in late June. "I think that someone snuck up on her and grabbed her. I don’t think she’s in the area because the dog goes down to the road and that’s the end of the trail, but I don’t know that for a fact. 

"The way that she just disappeared, she would never do that," he added. "We know that there are people praying all around the world praying for her safe return. So many people love her."

In a recent interview with WVLT, Donald elaborated further on his theory, insisting someone came through a wooded trail near the family's home and took the girl when nobody was watching.

”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," he said.

"All we know is that she went down the basement. That’s the only thing we know. To play with her toys."

Donald added that the family's basement door 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,” he continued.

Donald told the network that from there, he believes Summer was carried down a steep and rugged trail, just a few feet away from the house.

At the time of her disappearance, Donald said he was at work, his sons were inside the home, and his wife and mother-in-law were outside 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,” he said.

'LURED AWAY'

The father-of-four said search dogs previously picked up Summer's scent on the trail but lost it near a road.

He said he believes someone put his daughter in a car and drove off.

Candus Bly, Summer's mother, appeared to share Donald's theory, telling FOX8 she feels "in my heart that somebody has come up here and took her … has lured her away from here."

"Whoever has my daughter, I pray they haven’t harmed her, they and bring her back to us safe and sound," she pleaded.

Multiple local law enforcement agencies spent hours searching the trail and surroundings of the Wells family home but yielded few leads.

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson confirmed last month that "dogs had a pretty good trail that tracked for a little while, but then it disappeared" near a road.

"Sometimes K-9′s will lose the scent when it changes different types, where they maybe went from the gravel to the pavement," he explained.

Lawson, however, added that Donald's claim that a neighbor heard a scream was "unfounded."



HAIR CUT OFF

Shortly before Summer's disappearance, her previously chin-length blonde hair was buzzed down to a close crop.

In the hours after she vanished, police shared pictured of her with her long hair, describing her as three feet tall, weighing 40 pounds, and with blue eyes.

Then, in a later alert, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) tweeted: "Missing five-year-old Summer Wells may now have shorter hair than that pictured in our earlier alerts."

"Here's are new images we've just obtained that may be more representative of her current hair length."

Summer's parents have never said how soon before her disappearance was her hair cut off.

Family photos show that her three brothers all have short, cropped hair.

SUMMER'S BROTHERS REMOVED FROM HOME

Summer's three young brothers were removed from the Wells family home six weeks after her disappearance.

It came after Donald claimed that his house was a "dangerous" place to be amid a slew of threats being made against him and Candus, which turned reportedly drove him to start drinking heavily.

"Right now, with everybody attacking us and all this stuff going on, it’s probably better for them," Wells said on a podcast.

Donald also reportedly said that a lot of people were coming to him and accusing him of various things regarding the disappearance of his daughter.

"I believed that stuff," Wells said. "Like an idiot, I believed it and I flipped out, started drinking, and everything else. And that's why they took our kids."

The podcast's host, Jennifer Youngblood, told local media that he admitted that the boys being taken was due to him "having an episode of drinking and there are other things swirling around the internet that it could be the home life or what's going on right now in Summer's case."

Donald also said that the family had caught a number of people trespassing on their property, including a woman who claimed to be a psychic.

"We don’t need her crazy ass stopping at our house. She claims to be a Christian, and then she claims to be a psychic. How does that work," he told WVLT.

"Just know that we love our daughter with all our hearts. We would never do anything to hurt our daughter, we would never hurt a soul.

"We love everybody, we are Christian people. We wouldn’t hurt nobody, especially our beautiful, loving daughter.”

LIE DETECTOR TEST

Donald Wells and Candus Bly both previously claimed to have taken and passed a lie detector test in relation to Summer's disappearance.

Candus reportedly took the rest at the district attorney's office on June 20, five days after Summer's disappearance.

Donald, meanwhile, claims to have successfully completed a polygraph on June 17.

He told local media that both he and Candus had been asked to do a test sooner, but the pair were reportedly too emotional to go through with it.


"At first I didn’t get no sleep for two days. I couldn’t sleep for two days. It was the worst misery and pain I’ve ever felt in my life," he said. "I wasn’t able to take a lie detector test. They made me wait a little bit, but when I did take it I passed.

"They made Candus wait five days longer to take hers. She just wasn’t able to. She tried and she wasn’t able to. People are saying we failed and we took another test. That’s not the case, so when we did take them we both passed," he added.

When asked if his theory about what happened to Summer had changed, Donald said: "No. She’s been abducted in my mind, 100%. I know Candus wouldn’t lie to me about any of the facts.

"She has no reason to, and she wouldn’t lie.”

'SHE'S PROBABLY DEAD'

Around three weeks later, in July, Donald offered the grim prediction that Summer is probably no longer alive.

"Statistically speaking, there's a good chance she's already dead," Donald told the Kingsport Times-News. "I hate to think that. I love her with all my heart."

"If nothing else," he continued, "I'll see her in the resurrection. As long as I keep the commandments and do what I'm supposed to do, I'll see her."

Donald added that he would do "anything to have my baby back" and said he's putting his faith in God to "turn this around."

"I've made up my mind not to let Satan win," he said. "I've still got to move forward. I've still got to go to work. I've still got to try, even though I miss her."

During the July interview, he also insisted that he wouldn't allow his daughter's disappearance to drive him back to drinking.

"I'm not going to let Satan convince me to go drinking," he said in the phone interview with the local newspaper. "I'm not going down that road. I choose life. I choose God."

DONALD WELLS ARRESTED FOR DUI

But on Saturday night, Donald was arrested on suspicions of driving under the influence near his home in Hawkins County.

Donald is facing multiple other charges, including having an open container, violation of financial responsibility and others.

His charge of "financial responsibility" may have stemmed from driving without insurance, according to the network, as Tennesee law requires drivers to provide evidence they can pay for repairs or damages after certain charges or accidents.

Donald was also charged with improper lane usage. Under state law, it's required that a "vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety.”

He was initially held on a $5,750 bond but released just after 7.30am on Sunday, county records show.

No other details regarding his arrest have been released.

The Wells family issued a statement on their website dedicated to finding Summer, calling Donald's actions "stupid" and revealing that he'd been out driving in search of cigarettes at the time of his arrest.

Titled "Thank You For Prayers", the statement read: "[T]hank you everyone for kind messages.

"There are no words to what each day and night is like. We needed cigarettes. IT was a stupid decision. Please keep us in prayer. Keep Don. This pain wont go away. thank you."

CUSTODY GAG ORDER

Following Donald's arrest, on Monday a judge issued a gag order on the child protective services case involving his and Candus' sons.

The reads: “All parties to this action are hereby prohibited from discussing this matter or the children with the media or any other nonessential person entity and/or uninvolved or disinterred parties and/or persons.”

Officials have refused to comment on why the gag order was issued.

Donald Wells does have a criminal record, which includes other alcohol-related charges and domestic violence.

According to a warrant filed in General Sessions Court in Hawkins County on Oct. 15, 2020, Candus called police to report a domestic assault by her husband.

That lead to Candus to file for an order of protection against him, writing: "I am afraid for my children and myself."

She later asked for the order to be dismissed and the charges against Donald were dropped on April 21 – two months before Summer's disappearance.

State investigators have received over a thousand tips in connection with Summer's vanishing but the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office said they have so far yielded no concrete leads.

The TBI is asking anyone with information about Wells’ whereabouts to call 1-800-TBI-FIND or contact the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office at 423-272-7121.


    Source: Read Full Article