ROGERSVILLE — The father of 5-year-old Summer Wells, who has been missing since Tuesday, told the Times News on Friday he believes his daughter was abducted.
Donald Wesley Wells spoke to the Times News about the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s disappearance and what has been happening to him; his wife, Candus; and their three sons since Summer went missing.
Summer was last seen Tuesday evening at her home on Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek community in south central Hawkins County.
Since that time there has been a massive search effort covering hundreds of acres surrounding the Wells residence. There has also been an ongoing investigation by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Wells spoke about what happened Tuesday evening.
Donald Wells: “I was at work, but from what my wife has told me, her, and her mother, and Summer were planting flowers by her grandma’s trailer, which is about 20 feet from the house. Real close to the house. Summer, all of a sudden, said Mom I want to go in the house. So she said, fine.”
Her three brothers were inside watching TV, and Candus watched Summer go in the door. Her brothers said she was going to go downstairs and play with her toys.
Donald Wells: “Her mom came in and said where’s Summer? She’s downstairs playing with her toys. She (Candus) hollered for her, and there was no answer. She went downstairs and (Summer) was nowhere to be found. She went out the basement door. The door was unlocked.”
Summer has never left the area, and Wells said he doesn’t believe she would leave.
Donald Wells: “She might be on the other side of the house. I went out there before and called for her. She came out from behind the house. She just has to be outside. She’s an outside type of person. She was gone, buddy.”
He said his wife called him at work in Jonesborough and he told her to hang up and call 911, and he immediately headed for home.
He arrived before law enforcement, but many of his neighbors were already searching the area around his home on Ben Hill Road.
Donald Wells: “I was freaking out, and when I got home I drove up to the property, and all my neighbors were combing the woods for her. I realized then and there that she was not there. I knew right then and there that she was gone. She would never leave there on her own. Somebody had taken her.”
Mr. Wells said it is his belief that Summer was abducted and taken out of the area.
Donald Wells: “She would never leave. For one thing, we’ve got bears, and wild dogs, and we’ve got druggies who come around to other people’s houses all hours of the night. But this was like 5:30 in the evening, which makes me think someone was laying in wait. I heard somebody say that people track kids down on Facebook and find them. All I know is she is definitely not anywhere around there. Somebody has abducted her and took her out of the area.”
Mr. Wells said law enforcement has done a good job pursuing every lead, and he willingly took a lie detector test to assist in the investigation. He said he and his wife have been looking at photos of potential suspects.
Donald Wells: “They have tracked down all kinds of people. They even had me in there with a lie detector test. It didn’t bother me to do that whatsoever. A lot of time the parents are responsible.”
The Wells family are members of the Kingsport Seventh Day Adventist Church in Kingsport. Wells said they love their church family and Summer especially has many friends at church.
“They just love her to death,” he said.
Wells is originally from Utah, and he met his wife in Arkansas, where their oldest son was born. Candus Wells is from Wisconsin. and she had a sister who went missing there several years ago and was never found, Wells said, although he doesn’t know much about that incident.
The Wells family moved to their Ben Hill Road residence 13 years ago to take care of his mother, who has since passed away. They inherited her house and have lived there ever since. Summer and the two youngest boys were born here.
KTN: What have you been doing during the search?
Donald Wells: “Just trying to cope with everything. I’m talking to the police. I can’t be alone for some reason. If I have to I’ll go down there and talk to the police because I can’t be alone now.”
KTN: How are Summer’s brothers doing?
Donald Wells: “They’re coping with it better than me and their mother are. I don’t understand that. When they really think about it they’re upset. But they’re coping with it way better. The most I’ve done is watch the news a little bit. I can’t focus on anything.”
KTN: Do you have hope that this will end well?
Donald Wells: “I have hope, but when you look at the statistics. Through our church and other churches, worldwide prayer is going on for her. Plus all the law enforcement agents are praying. We’re just hoping that God will turn it around somehow, some miraculous way.”