JOHNSON CITY, TENN. (WJHL)- Social media rumors and YouTube sleuths have clouded the Summer Wells case. But, there is one who has taken the case by storm.
“This is a powerful tool if utilized correctly and embraced by law enforcement as a whole, because this is the 21st century now,” said Chris McDonough, the host of The Interview Room. “If somebody knows what they’re doing and they’re not just arbitrarily doing it, i.e. throwing things out there to confuse.”
His YouTube channel has thousands of views on his videos and lives talking about the disappearance of the Hawkins County girl.
“If the family stops cooperating, that’s a red flag. That’s not a good thing. You need the family to cooperate in the investigation to help you,” he said. “They understand that child more than anybody else on this earth. That mother understands what that baby does, how she thinks, how she plays, how she smells. That mother knows how that child is. When that mother stops cooperating, that’s a red flag.”
McDonough’s been on the ground in Beech Creek, talking with Summer’s mother and even going inside the Wells home.
“I talked to the folks at the church. I went around to all the points of contact that were related as well as what she told me behind the scenes. I went to all the various locations,” he said. “I was also trying to contact Don and speak with him, but for four or five days he avoided me for some reason.”
The Interview Room has the only interview with a 15-year-old Candus says spent the entire day with her, Summer, and the grandmother on June 15.
“I asked [the teenager] to make sure all of this information had been provided to the FBI, and he said yes. In fact, they interviewed him three separate times,” McDonough explained. “Some of that was edited because I felt that some of the information that he was providing at the time should not be out into the public arena.”
McDonough was in law enforcement in Oceanside, California for more than 25 years. Over half of that time was spent in homicide work.
“In this particular case, she disappears… vanishes initially out of the basement of her home. Well, that is a very low-risk event, being in the basement of your home. So, that means you then have to shift to the suspectology,” he explained. “In that suspectology you then have to think through that idea how much ‘risk’ would a stranger take to go up the hill on 110 Ben Hill Road, go into a basement, abduct a five-year-old child for gratification, ie. SA and then evaporate leaving no trail behind them?”
Along with hosting The Interview Room, he’s the Law Enforcement Relationship Director for the Cold Case Foundation.
“Law enforcement is focusing on that area for a reason. They’re not chasing leads out of state that I’m aware of. Everybody seems to keep coming back to that property area,” he said. “I don’t feel that this is going be a stranger abduction in any way, in my opinion. I could be wrong, but quite frankly, all the evidence isn’t pointing that way. It’s somebody that is familiar with the property and staying within that area. Now what that means, I don’t know. I’m not going to start chasing sightings in four or five different states knowing that I should stay here within the first 24 hours, and I think that is what law enforcement has done correctly.”
Although a year has passed since Summer disappeared, McDonough says her name and image need to stay fresh.
“It is citizens who solve crimes. Law enforcement just assembles the puzzle parts, but it’s the media, it’s the citizenry, it’s those tips, those solid tips that lead law enforcement to the correct path that they need to be on,” McDonough said. “She’s out there or at least the truth is out there, and we have to be patient. Sometimes it takes a long time for these types of problems to resolve themselves, and whatever that truth is, we have to embrace it.”