THE MISSING FILES: Man who lives near spot where Summer Wells disappeared claims family is hiding truth

THE MISSING FILES: Man who lives near spot where Summer Wells disappeared  claims family is hiding truth
Summer Wells went missing from her family home along Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County (@TBInvestigation/Twitter)

The Missing Files is a weekly special feature that looks into cases of missing people across America that have shattered communities and families. It delves into the known facts and the latest updates on these mysterious disappearances. 

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HAWKINS COUNTY, TENNESSEE: Summer Moon-Utah Wells went missing from her family home along Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County, Tennessee, on June 15, 2021. The then four-year-old girl was last seen around 6.30 pm while she was going down to the basement to play with her toys, her family reportedly said. Her father, Don Wells, believed she was abducted. The next day, an Amber Alert was issued for her.

Summer lived with her mother, father and three brothers. The day she disappeared was like any other. The little girl spent the day swimming with her mom, Candus, and grandmother, Candy, at a local creek. She came back home and planted flowers with some people she knew. That was the last day anyone ever saw her alive. She has not been heard from since.

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A little less than two years after Summer's mysterious disappearance, MEAWW spoke with Trevor Lee, who lived near Summer's home and the spot where she went missing from. Trevor said although he is not related to Summer, he is "considered the advocate for her case locally by our community, but nothing official." Trevor has pursued the case consistently in an attempt to bring Summer home.

"I put forth $2,000 towards the reward for answers towards finding her or what happened to her. I did this in the first couple of weeks after her disappearance," Trevor said. "I also have participated in many public property and private property searches, hung fliers, and regularly communicate with law enforcement. As time has passed. I’ve focused on using social media and other platforms to spread awareness for her."

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'Summer loved her church class and Paw Patrol toys'

Trevor, 21, said he was drawn to Summer’s case very early on following her disappearance. "Of course, I received the missing child alert, but something just stuck out, and tugged at my heart. I felt that God was calling me to step up and help this little girl. Shortly after, I drove down to the command center and offered to help search, then days later I donated $2,000 towards the reward fund," he said.

Summer Wells was reportedly last seen around 6:30 pm while she was going down to the basement to play with her toys (Image provided by Trevor Lee)
Summer Wells was reportedly last seen around 6:30 pm while she was going down to the basement to play with her toys (Image provided by Trevor Lee)

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"I never interacted with Summer, but between seeing social media posts and hearing from those that did interact with her, I know she was a happy, bubbly, loving girl that often carried a smile on her face and was often excited by things like her church class or Paw Patrol toys," he added. 

'Local law enforcement has seemed to drop the ball'

"I have a couple theories, but they fall under the umbrella of foul play," Trevor said. "I believe someone who was tasked with protecting this sweet child failed her and is responsible for her disappearance. I do not believe, nor has anything been brought forward to say, that there would be anyone who would want to hurt Summer."

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"The TBI and FBI have been doing great work on this case, but local law enforcement has seemed to drop the ball. Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office has a long-standing history of corruption and they seem to be willing to let a missing child’s case go cold in order to protect that corruption," he alleged.

(Image provided by Trevor Lee)
Summer Wells went missing on June 15, 2021 (Image provided by Trevor Lee)

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"They often hang up on concerned citizen’s calls, and have provided zero updates in a very long time. So parts of the law enforcement response have been incredible, but some have not, unfortunately," he alleged. 



 

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Don Wells' run-ins with the law

After Summer's disappearance, her father Don was jailed for 11 months after admitting to driving under the influence. According to a toxicology screen from the night of his arrest, there was no evidence of drugs. However, he registered a 0.13 blood alcohol percentage, above the 0.08 intoxication limit.

Don Wells was jailed for 11 months after admitting to driving under the influence (Hawkins County Sheriff's Office)
Don Wells was jailed for 11 months after admitting to driving under the influence (Hawkins County Sheriff's Office)

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Don said at the time that he "wanted to get away" after an argument with his wife Candus, the Daily Mail reported. "That's what feet are for," General Sessions Judge Todd Ross had told him. The mandatory minimum sentence happens to be 48 hours in jail, 88 hours of community service, a $350 fine and a year with a revoked license. However, the arrest is said to have violated a previous probation order after Don was arrested for possession of a handgun while intoxicated.

"I have met Don Wells, and I truly get the impression that he knows more about what happened the day when Summer disappeared than he leads on," Trevor said. "My impression of the Wells family, and I say this with no excitement, is a family that gave up on their daughter when she needed them the most."

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When the Wells family allegedly stopped cooperating

It was reported in March 2022 that Summer's family had stopped cooperating with the investigation into her disappearance. At the time, several agents and officers with Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office had been searching in the Beech Creek community. "No they're not cooperating right now. They have attorneys," Sheriff Ronnie Lawson had said of the family. Back then, Candus had claimed that while she could not speak for Don, she was still cooperating with law enforcement and had not sought out lawyers. 

"Don Wells is currently staying at their family home, on Ben Hill Rd," Trevor claimed. "I have spoken with him on occasion in hopes of at least bringing something positive to the community in Summer’s honor."

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Don Wells' note "to the person, or persons responsible"

Last year, Don wrote a letter to people who may be involved in Summer's disappearance. "To the person, or persons responsible for kidnapping Summer, not only have you broken Summer's heart and taken her away from her mother and father, who love her very much, but you ruined her chances to become educated ruining her life," he wrote.

"You have also broke the hearts of her father and her mother and brothers and in the midst of all the commotion ruined our lives. You see, the public blames us. I don't know if we'll ever find employment again. Nobody will hire my wife, and I've been fired from a job I've had for 13 years. We may end up losing everything. When you took our little girl, you took our very lives. Why don't you give our little girl back before God's wrath descends on you?" he added. 

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"You've broken many hearts and more, especially an innocent five-year-old girl's heart. One day, God will hold you accountable for this crime unless you do something to make this right. Please, do the right thing, and turn our daughter over to the authorities. We're begging you with all of our hearts. Please, do the right thing," he said, signing the letter "Summer’s father".

'A drug and narcotics epidemic'

When asked if the community Summer lived in has been prone to abductions and other crimes, Trevor said, "It has a drug and narcotics epidemic, but crimes against children such as abductions, aren’t abnormally high here."

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"I stay in semi-regular contact with the TBI, but if I could say one thing to local law enforcement, it would just be a plea to not give up. I would ask them to keep fighting for this sweet, innocent girl until there are answers and closure for her and the community," he said. 

Trevor's Facebook group trying to bring Summer home

"As far as the community goes, they have been concerned about her disappearance as well," Trevor said. "I help manage a Facebook group, 'Summer Wells: ~ Vanished in TN' where I share any updates I have and just to keep her name alive. Searches are limited due to the rough and dangerous terrain, and with a lot of property being privately owned."

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Trevor Lee (pictured) said he was drawn to Summer Wells' case very early on following her disappearance (Trevor Lee/Facebook)
Trevor Lee (pictured) said he was drawn to Summer Wells' case very early on following her disappearance (Trevor Lee/Facebook)

"However, I have searched public land many times since her disappearance, and have participated in a scheduled private property search with the private investigator on the case. I am friends with multiple leaders from major search groups, so I have made sure to know the protocol and what to do if I was to find anything during a search," he added.

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One year after Summer went missing, the Hawkins County Sheriff and a TBI Spokesperson issued a press release with updates. The case, they had said, remains active and ongoing.

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