Summer Wells has now been missing for one year.
The Tennessee 6-year-old was last seen on the evening of June 15, 2021, at her home on Ben Hill Road in Hawkins County, after her mother said she came in from gardening outside with her grandmother.
In the following 12 months, investigators spent thousands of hours on the case and executed multiple search warrants, Leslie Earhart, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said during a news briefing Wednesday morning.
“The investigation into the disappearance of Summer Wells is very much active and ongoing,” she said.
However, she said authorities could not reveal many details to preserve the integrity of the investigation, which has languished for months with no visible progress.
“When we held the first media briefing on June 16, , honestly, we expected to have good news to report by the time the next media briefing came around,” Earhart said. “Unfortunately, instead, day after day ended in frustration and disappointment.”
Even so, she added, investigators did not expect the search to remain ongoing after a year. But with scant evidence, few clues and repeated searches coming up empty, an Amber Alert remains in effect for Summer.
Authorities have interviewed more than 170 witnesses, examined digital evidence and searched the home and surrounding area more than once by land and air.
Summer’s three brothers and other people who visited her home prior to her disappearance have been interviewed as part of the investigation, Earhart said. The boys have since been placed in Tennessee Department of Child Protective Services custody.
In the days after Summer’s disappearance, authorities said they wanted to speak with the driver of a red Toyota Tacoma that a witness reported seeing in the neighborhood. The driver never came forward and has not been found or interviewed, according to TBI. A witness told investigators that the truck had a ladder rack and white buckets in the bed. It did not appear on any surveillance cameras – but authorities have noted that the area is very rural.
Summer is about 3 feet tall and weighs around 40 pounds. At the time she went missing, she was wearing gray pants, a pink shirt and may have been barefoot. Her blonde hair is believed to be shorter than it appears in most of the pictures of her that authorities have circulated to help the search.