ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. - It has been nearly five months since officials issued an Amber Alert for a missing 5-year-old northeast Tennessee girl. Law enforcement officials said they are being tight-lipped about portions of the investigation to preserve the integrity of the investigation, but said the search is far from over.
"We’re still looking, still searching, still following tips," said Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson.
Summer Moon-Utah Wells was last seen at her home in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County, Tennessee on the afternoon of June 15. Officials from more than four dozen agencies turned the Beech Creek community upside down looking for the young girl for weeks. Specialized units searched more than a thousand acres by foot and air. Dive teams were also brought in to search nearby lakes and ponds.
While the active search has long been suspended, law enforcement officials said they will do any search based on credible information, but that information has been lacking. They are also urging all residents in the area to continue to check their properties, especially as the overgrowth dies down due to the cooler weather, for any evidence Summer may have been on their property.
Investigators said they have sifted through thousands of tips, but have been met with most;y dead ends. Most tips are generated by well-intentioned individuals on social media who have been spreading speculation and conjecture rather than having any real first-hand knowledge, investigators said. In the past month, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said they have seen a significant increase in the number of speculative-based tips.
Officials said they are not releasing too many details including the exact timeline behind the young girl's disappearance as it is important to the ongoing investigation.
"One of the things we need to do is preserve the integrity of this case because we can’t tell everything we’re doing, can’t tell everything we know," said Sheriff Ronnie Lawson. "And a lot of the stuff we’ve called on, we’ve already done several times."
The sheriff said investigators have scoured through all the available surveillance video they could find that was near the young girl's home, but it is a very rural residential area, so cameras are few and far between.
While investigators do not have any evidence that Summer was abducted, they have been covering all their bases. They have interviewed known sex offenders in the area. They also have been following up on all vehicles descriptions given to them that may have been in the area that day.
One of those vehicles law enforcement officials would like to find is that of a 1998-2000 maroon or red Toyota Tacoma, with a full bed ladder rack and white buckets in the truck bed. A witness who is regularly in the area as part of his job spotted the truck in the area. Investigators would like to speak to the driver.
The TBI has added a Q&A to their blog about Summer's disappearance on their website to help the public understand what has been done in the case so far.
"We want to be clear that we’re doing everything within our power to find her," the TBI wrote in a statement released earlier this month. "While we do not discuss specifics about evidence gathered in an ongoing investigation, we can tell you that numerous search warrants have been executed, and any potential digital evidence has been collected. This includes social media accounts."
FOX News previously reported both of Summer's parents have criminal records.
Don Wells, Summer's father, has been convicted of multiple violent felonies and served prison time for convictions involving drugs and burglaries in Arkansas, Utah, and Texas. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was cited for numerous parole violations.
Summer’s mother, Candus Bly, also has a criminal record in the state of Wisconsin, most recently a guilty plea on misdemeanor domestic abuse charges in 2003.
Sheriff Lawson had previously stated he didn't believe Don Wells' criminal history played into the case. He said Summer lives with her parents and three siblings at their home.
The sheriff said Summer’s parents are continuing to cooperate fully in the investigation.
Summer 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.
The FBI is assisting in the case.
Anyone who sees Summer 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