Searching for Summer Wells

Brittany Enn

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2BNI4u_0bMgS7w200
Candus Wells

The search continues for five-year-old Summer Wells, who disappeared from her family's Tennessee residence on June 15, 2021.

The Facts

Summer Wells is a five-year-old girl from Rogersville, TN who went missing from her home on June 15, 2021 at 6:00PM. She is 3 feet tall, blonde with blue eyes, and weighs about forty pounds. She was last seen by her family wearing a pink shirt, grey shorts, and no shoes. On the evening of her disappearance, an Endangered Child Alert was sent out.

On June 16, the Endangered Child Alert became an Amber Alert.

According to WYMT, Summer's father, Donald Wells, stated on June 17 that he believed Summer had been kidnapped. By June 18, 2021 over 1,000 acres of land and water had been searched.

Soon after the comment that Donald believed Summer was kidnapped, it was discovered that in the Summer of 2020, Donald Wells had been arrested for domestic violence against Summer's mother, Candus Bly. She wrote on the protective order that she was afraid for her children and herself, that Donald was physically and mentally abusive, and that she thought Donald may harm her mother. Candus' mother lives in a camper on Donald and Candus' property. Candus later requested the protective order be dismissed.

The FBI joined the now 2,400 acre search on June 21, 2021. Summer's parents were cooperative and seemed distraught. Hawkin's County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson stated, "We have not stopped. We've been searching 24/7 for 6 days now." By June 22, 2021, 221 tips had been received.

WBTV reported soon after that this was not the family's first mysterious disappearance. Candus Bly's sister, Rose Marie Bly, had gone missing in 2009 and was never found.

On June 23, TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Invesigation) tweeted, "Investigators conducted a roadblock canvas Tuesday evening, speaking with drivers who travel through the Beech Creek area often to see if they noticed anything out of the ordinary on the day Summer Wells went missing.”

On June 26, 2021, timenews.net stated,

"TBI agents and Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office detectives continue to search for a 1998-2000 maroon or red Toyota Tacoma with a full bed ladder rack and white buckets in the truck bed. As previously mentioned by the TBI, this stems from information investigators received that a truck matching that description was seen in the area of Beech Creek Road and Ben Hill Road in the late afternoon to early evening on either Monday, June 14, or Tuesday, June 15."

After frustration and lack of new findings, on July 11, 2021 Sheriff Lawson assured the public that the case was "nowhere close to being cold." Just three days later, the reward money increased to $37,470.

At this point, Donald Wells made a chilling statement, telling Kingport Times, "Statistically speaking there’s a good chance she’s already dead. I hate to think that. I love her with all my heart. If nothing else, I'll see her in the resurrection." On July 26, 2021, Summer's three brothers were removed from the home by DCS. Donald blames this on death threats received from social media.

The Swimming Hole Incident

The Interview Room's Chris McDonough, a retired homicide detective with years of interviewing experience, sat with a 15-year-old boy, Hunter, to discuss what happened at The Horse Pond Swimming Hole on the day of her disappearance. Hunter was joined in the interview by his mother, Allyson Harris (who is also a friend of Summer's mother), and Allyson's grandmother.

Hunter stated before the interview began that he had blocked Candus on social media and that the TBI had his phone. Hunter states he was invited to go fishing at the swimming hole with Candus and Summer. Candus changed Summer into a bathing suit, then Candus received a call that her mother had just been released from the hospital and they needed to pick her up. Candus then drove with Hunter and Summer to pick up Candus' mother, and headed to Walgreens afterwards. At this time, Hunter says Summer was sitting in the back of the passenger side of the vehicle, acting normally and energetically.

Candus then got a strange phone call from her husband, stating a man was on their property. Candus told Hunter that this man had been stalking her children for a week and sneaking around their house. Candus also stated a man named Billy would often get into arguments with his wife and would sleep on Candus' property when he was kicked out. After this conversation, Candus drove to get a tobacco store. She bought cigarettes, a black and purple nicotine vape, a blue nicotine vape, and a single can of Twisted Tea. They then drove to the swimming hole.

When they exited the vehicle, Candus gave Hunter the can of Twisted Tea, and he was also allowed to use the vape. Summer was the first to enter the water while Candus and Hunter watched TikTok videos. Candus' mother stayed behind in the car to add minutes to her phone.

Hunter saw Summer go underwater for 10-15 seconds and she did not come back up. He went into the water to check on her. He called her name to get her attention and pulled her above water. Hunter said she was laughing and immediately ok afterwards. While Summer was underwater, Candus had been speaking to her mother, who had exited the vehicle, and had not seen the incident. They then went to a local CBD shop, and Summer and Hunter stayed in the car. Summer was awake, watching TikToks, and playing with a Pop-It. Candus and her mother were in the store for five minutes. She returned with a vape for herself and one for Hunter. They then went to Walgreens to pick up Candus' mother's prescription. They went to Sonic for slushes, drove to another store, and again Summer and Hunter were left in the car. Hunter states she was still acting normally. Candus and her mother were in the store for an hour getting groceries.

After putting the groceries in the bed of the truck, Hunter was given a gallon of milk to hold while they drove. When he exited the vehicle, he placed the milk in the middle of the backseat. He cannot remember if Summer was sleeping or awake when he was dropped off. Hunter is unsure if Summer was hurt from the water, but stated she seemed fine. He is also unsure of how the milk, found in a video of Summer, ended up on the other side of her.

Later in the day, when Hunter was at a local park with his girlfriend, Hunter received a call from Candus letting him know Summer was missing. Hunter thought she was lying, and states Candus has gotten drunk and high at the same time previously and lost her children. He advised her to call his mother to tell her, then called his own mother and gave her a heads up that Candus may call. Nothing else occurred until the next morning when Candus told Hunter that she was being subjected to "another polygraph test." Candus showed up at Hunter's house telling him not to mention the alcohol she had given him. When he admitted to having told law enforcement about the alcohol, Candus allegedly stated, "that better be it." TBI soon after told Hunter not to contact Candus. Hunter believes Candus may have been involved in the disappearance, per a statement he gave in the interview. He had managed to review one of Candus' 13 deleted texts between Candus and who Hunter states is a drug dealer. The ominous message simply stated 'it was done.' He also stated Candus' mom was "out of her mind," alluding to the fact that she may have also been involved.

Candus Bly and Donald Wells' Initial Statements

"I know she didn't walk off the property by herself, or off this yard," states Summer's mother, Candus Bly, in an interview with WJHL.

Candus states she, her mother, and Summer were planting flowers and went inside to wash their hands. Summer was given a piece of candy by her grandmother. Summer then wanted to see her brothers, so Candus walked Summer to the porch and told her brothers to watch her. She then said she'd be right back, returned to the house two minutes later, and asked Summer's brothers where she had gone. They said she went downstairs to a playroom. Candus went downstairs and called for her daughter, but received no answer. Summer has not been seen since.

Candus goes on to mention that she does not venture far from her property because of bears, snakes, and coyotes. She states calmly, "Well, whoever has my daughter, I pray and hope that they have not harmed her and they bring her back to us safe and sound."

Donald states Summer's disappearance, "seems kind of illusive."

They then go on to mention Summer's hair, that she was a tomboy, and that she wanted her hair shaved like her mother's.

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Candus Bly and Donald Wells, parents of Summer WellsWJHL/Youtube

Donald stated, "I knew right away that she was abducted. I knew that right away, and that's what I told them from the beginning." He mentions he wishes there was a way to search neighbors' homes, and that search warrants should be obtained if they refuse to comply with aiding in the investigation. Donald adds that he and Candus are thankful for the people assisting in the exhaustive search efforts.

In this interview, Donald says emotionally, "She loved everybody in the church. Or, she loves. I should rephrase that. Tear that apart as past tense. I'll apologize again for that." He states he sometimes thinks in past tense from the grief of losing hope as time goes on with no sign of Summer.

Candus and Donald begged that whoever has Summer, please bring her home. Candus adds that she would also like to see her missing sister, Summer's aunt, brought home safely.

IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION THAT COULD HELP FIND SUMMER WELLS, PLEASE CALL 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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Nationwide BIPOC and underrepresented missing persons cases. If you know of any current or cold cases you'd like to see an article on, please email me at bnunez298388@nsula.edu.

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