HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has released a forensic photo of what missing Hawkins County child Summer Wells may look like two years after her disappearance.
In a tweet from the TBI, investigators said no new details have come to light in the search for Summer, and her AMBER Alert remains active. The TBI described her disappearance as “one of the most exhaustive and involved missing child cases” the agency has ever investigated.
“Though we have no new details to share publicly, rest assured: We’re continuing to chase every lead in order to find Summer,” the TBI wrote.
Artists with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) created a photo of what Summer Wells is expected to look like as of June 14, 2023. February 4, 2023 marked her seventh birthday. Summer Wells was five years old when she was first reported missing.
“We won’t stop searching for Summer until we have answers,” the TBI stated.
News Channel 11 spoke with Leemie Kahng-Sofer, the director of case management for the NCMEC, who said the creation of a photo like Summer’s is a process that requires multiple references.
“We try to collect as much as possible of what’s called reference photos, and although ideally, these are photos of the parents at the time or at the age that the child is missing currently, really any family photos, any sibling photos, any parent photos at whatever age is very helpful,” Kahng-Sofer said.
Several programs are used to create the images, but she said it’s not an exact science and more of an estimation. According to Kahng-Sofer, it’s a process that usually takes about eight hours to complete.
“Anecdotally, we have had some successes and responses about how similar the features are and how similar the now-recovered either child or young adult bares resemblance to the age-progressed photos,” Kahng-Sofer said. “I know that we’ve had some successes, again anecdotally, even when they were infants and it sparked some sort of recognition.”
No one has been charged in Summer’s disappearance to date. Anyone with tips or information is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND. The TBI asked that speculation from unofficial sources not be shared with investigators and only credible tips be passed along.
Summer was first reported missing from her family’s home in the Beech Creek community on June 15, 2021. For complete coverage on the Search for Summer Wells, click here.
News Channel 11 will have coverage Thursday of the Search for Summer Wells and the two years since her disappearance.