Although investigators received more than 50 leads by Thursday, they still hadn’t been able to locate a missing 5-year-old in Hawkins County, Tennessee.
The search continued Thursday in the Beech Creek section of Hawkins County — just west of the Sullivan County line — for Summer Moon-Utah Wells, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. By Thursday afternoon, TBI spokeswoman Leslie Earhart said the agency received at least 50 leads and followed up on each of them.
Earhart asked the public to continue to share photographs and search their properties for Summer, who was reported missing by family Tuesday evening. She was last seen on foot near her home along Ben Hill Road.
During a news conference at a nearby church, Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the girl’s parents reported her missing around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, but authorities do not know exactly when she was last seen. He said the parents searched for their child before calling law enforcement.
Lawson said that everybody is a person of interest until Summer is found. He added that law enforcement still does not know the exact circumstances surrounding her disappearance.
Nineteen law enforcement and rescue agencies continued to search on foot and in the air Thursday. The difficult terrain makes it hard to send and receive calls and text messages, and radio coverage is spotty, officials said.
Church Hill Rescue Squad Capt. Tim Coup said ground search efforts covered about a 1-mile radius of the home, and he expected it to be a 2-mile radius by the end of Thursday. Several law enforcement and medical helicopters and law enforcement drones have also been used to search by air.
“We’re also experiencing very dense canopy cover and very dense ground cover,” Coup said.
He noted that cellphone companies have provided signal boosts to help with the search.
Homes in the area are not close to each other, and authorities said some may be at least 1 mile apart. Local residents have been asked to search any place on their properties where someone might be able to hide.
Earhart said authorities are still only using professionals to search for Summer and are not yet asking for local volunteers. The community has helped with social media shares and donations.
“The amount of resources that all the agencies involved from the local to federal level have committed to the search efforts in locating Summer safely is unbelievable,” the Hawkins County Rescue Squad said on Facebook. “The community support, prayers and donation of food, drinks and supplies that have (been) brought to the Command Post is also unbelievable and very much appreciated.”
The HCRS asked for continued prayer.
Summer, the youngest of four children, has blond hair and blue eyes, stands 3 foot tall and weighs approximately 40 pounds, according to the TBI. She was reportedly last seen wearing a pink shirt and may have been barefoot.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.