During the height of the ground search, access to the immediate area was blocked off because of the ongoing search and investigation.
The Wells family lives across the street from a neighboring property – on mirroring mountains. Together, the two pieces of land can be described as sentinels which sit high over Ben Hill Road.
WFXR’s sister station, WJHL, has the very first interview given by a neighbor who says the day the five-year-old girl went missing, she and her two kids swear they heard a scream shortly before they joined the search for a now missing Summer Wells.
On the watch and hypervigilant — that’s how JodiSue Brown was the very day Summer Wells went missing.
“There were no TVs and no noise at all,” said the 10-year-resident of Ben Hill Road.
She was in her cabin with her 19 and 14-year-old children, waiting for anything.
“We were kind of hyper-alert because of property things that happened the day before, so we were listening for noise; everyone was kind of quiet,” said Brown.
There was a property sale that brought a plethora of people to their door, confused about which piece of land was for sale, leading to a dispute of property lines.
“While we were out at one point doing survey lines and there was a flash of a car that went up Candus and Donnie’s driveway,” she recalled. “Something about it struck me wrong.”
She and her family next heard a truck door slamming and dismissed it as their neighbors.
The next sound they heard, though, was harder to justify.
About an hour and a half before Summer is thought to go missing – Brown, her son, and her daughter heard something far more suspicious: a scream.
“It stopped all three of us cold,” Brown explained.
Her daughter was the first to go to the cabin door. Then all three were there, listening still.
“We heard this shrill, almost animalistic scream,” her son said.
Animalistic, but not an animal, according to Brown.
“I knew it was wrong,” said Brown. “It wasn’t a dog. It wasn’t an animal.”
That vigilance then kicked into overdrive. Brown and her son went out to look for the source of the scream.
“My son and I decided to go out and see what we could see. We went back on to the bank; didn’t see anything, didn’t hear anything,” she recalled.
They went on with their evening, and the kids returned to being kids. Brown said she headed down her driveway around 6 p.m. to tend to flowers.
“And at this point, I start hearing them holler for Summer,” she said. “By the third, I knew something was wrong. And then my brain immediately went, ‘scream earlier, this, uh oh.'”
Brown was the first to hear those calls and the first to join the search for Summer.
“I dropped my purse,” she said. “I tried to yell up at Candus, and I’m like ‘I’m looking. And I started looking.'”
Brown searched one side of a creek while Summer’s brothers checked the opposite side. Candus was coming down the drive.
Sister station WJHL asked Brown if she had reported the scream to the police. She responded, “Oh absolutely.”
“I think the third police car by this point had started to come in. I stopped it,” remembered Brown. “I was like, ‘Look I heard a scream earlier.'”
Brown has been interviewed many times by investigators, bringing up the scream often. Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson doesn’t believe the scream is related to Summer’s disappearance.
“She’s been interviewed numerous times by not only my agency but the TBI and FBI, and we don’t find anything with that complaint or information related to this case,” said Lawson.
Brown wishes she could go back to just a short time before Summer disappeared and before the scream, she believes was Summer.
“I wish every day that when I heard that scream, I hadn’t tried to dismiss it,” she said.
Referencing the work of the FBI, TBI, and his own deputies, Lawson reiterated in an interview the same week as Brown’s that investigators have found absolutely no proof that an abduction has taken place.
For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list
Get breaking news, weather, and sports delivered to your smartphone with the WFXR News app available on Apple and Android.