ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – On the night of June 15, District Attorney General Dan Armstrong called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to help with the search efforts for Summer Wells. Almost 10 months later with no real developments, this case is unlike anything he’s ever worked on before.
“The sheriff will contact other law enforcement agencies, but under the way the TBI is set up, I have to make the formal request for the TBI,” Armstrong said. “So, the sheriff in this particular case, he had called and asked for help from all the agencies and then called me, and I asked the TBI to get involved.”
The long-spanning search for Summer Wells can feel like a blur, but the night of June 15 is clear as day to Armstrong, just as the call to issue an AMBER Alert the following day.
“An AMBER Alert is where a child is missing from either the person that’s supposed to have legal custody of them or their parents. So, we put out the AMBER Alert to alert everybody, including citizens,” said Armstrong.
No one has been charged in relation to Summer’s disappearance, but that doesn’t mean the district attorney isn’t involved.
“It’s a case that has implications for the legal system and the law, but you couldn’t classify it right now. There are no criminal charges that have been filed,” Armstrong said. “My role basically is just to be an advisor if any legal issues come up in the search; who to talk to, how to go about doing that. I am kept briefed periodically; not every day but periodically and just available to provide any legal assistance that I can.”
Summer’s older brothers were put into child protective services custody last July, but no charges have been filed over their removal. However, her father, Don Wells, is serving time in the Hawkins County Jail over DUI and violation of probation charges.
“It’s a very complicated issue that has been made more complicated by the players in this drama,” Armstrong said. Armstrong declined to comment about Don Wells’ legal troubles.
He said the possibility of a charge and arrest could happen at some point.
“We make ourselves available to both the sheriff’s office and the TBI to advise them as to the consequences of the next step that they’re proposing to take and how we can do it to where if there is eventually a prosecution,” said Armstrong. “What they gather will be something that we can introduce in a court, make sure we cover all those bases.”
If an arrest ever does take place, that’s when Armstrong will look at what charges can be filed.
“If it ever got to the point we were ready to consider charges, then of course they would talk to me about what charges and who to charge. And a case like this would generally go to a grand jury,” he explained.
Even though he stays in touch with law enforcement about where they’re at in the investigation, Armstrong is almost at a standstill in his particular role.
“We follow leads as they come in, and so at this point, you’re basically down to just following whatever leads come in and following up,” he said. “Maybe trying to backtrack and do some things you did before to see if anything comes of it.”