ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. - Authorities in Tennessee said there is growing concern over the disappearance of a missing 5-year-old girl that prompted an Amber Alert on Wednesday afternoon.
Summer Moon-Utah Wells was last seen at her home in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County, Tennessee. That community is located along the Interstate 81 corridor just over 70 miles northeast of Knoxville or 15 miles southwest of Kingsport, Tennessee.
"Our main goal is to find Summer and find her safe," said Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson during a 4 p.m. press conference.
"A family member reported her missing to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening," said Leslie Earhart, spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation during Wednesday afternoon’s press conference.
The TBI, FBI, Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, and multiple other agencies began searching for the young girl late Tuesday night. At the time, she was considered an "endangered child." Wednesday afternoon, investigators upgraded the search to include an Amber Alert.
"It’s been a very intense 21 hours, lot of searching, lot of investigation by 19 different agencies," said Sheriff Lawson. "Last night, we had approximately 60 to 80 people searching in the woods with a number of law enforcement officers doing an investigation also. Today, we’ve had over a hundred people in the woods searching throughout the whole region."
The sheriff’s office said they have plenty of people searching, but ask for the public to be alert. They are also asking all local residents to checks outhouses, crawlspaces, barns, sheds, or others spaces on their property where someone could hide. They are also asking residents to check any surveillance cameras from Tuesday evening until now.
"We do want to encourage the public, especially residents living in the area of Ben Hill Road to check any trail cameras or security cameras that they might have that could have could have captured Summer on video or photographs," Earhart said.
Wells is described by investigators as being 3-feet tall, weighing about 40 pounds, with blonde hair, and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing gray pants and a pink shirt. She is believed to be barefoot and her hair is now shorter than photos released by the TBI.
Few details have been released into the investigation into Wells’ disappearance. Sheriff Lawson said the investigation is ongoing.
"We will release things as we can, when we can," the sheriff said, adding that the family is fully cooperating in their investigation.
Investigators would not say if they believe if Wells was abducted or not, but disclosed that new information led authorities to issue the Amber Alert.
"The bottom line is we don’t know where she is at this time," Earhart said.
"If they see something or know something, they need to tell somebody," the sheriff said.
Anyone who sees Wells is asked to call 911 immediately. Anyone with any information about her whereabouts is asked to call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office at 423-272-7121.
This story is being reported out of Atlanta
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