Summer Wells update – Inside the drug-fuelled 'Cornbread Mafia' that triggered missing girl's mom to storm off Dr Phil

SUMMER Wells has been missing since June 15 and authorities are turning over every stone to find her.

During an appearance on The Dr Phil show, Summer’s parents, Donald and Candus Wells were asked about the “Cornbread Mafia” and if they could have involvement in Summer’s disappearance. 

The nickname is used to describe a crime syndicate in Tennesee which Don said he’s heard of an alleged "hillbilly mafia" in the past.

“We don’t associate or socialize with them,” he said, adding that the couple tries to keep their children “completely away” from that activity.

The question caused Candus to storm off. While Don attempted to answer the question, insisting he's heard of gang activity in their neighborhood, Candus turned to him and said: "Get these wires off of me.

Don reacted by patting her on the back and saying "these are tough questions," but Candus said: "No, I'm being interrogated again and I don't want to do this."

Candus struggled to take off her microphone and revealed she "wanted out" and to "go home."


Since the episode, “Cornbread Mafia” has been trending online with many wondering what it is. 

Historically, the name was used for a group of men in Kentucky who created the largest domestic marijuana production operation in US history. 

The term “Cornbread Mafia” was first used by federal prosecutors in June 1989. Over 70 men were arrested for organizing a marijuana trafficking ring that had 30 farms in 10 states.

The organization could possibly exist in Tennesse says Eric Stanton, the assistant professor and lead instructor of criminal justice and behavior and social studies at Northeast State Community College. 

But Stanton says no structure currently exists could pull off Summer’s disappearance.

“I think it’s more of a code of silence versus an actual organized operation,” he said. “You have to look at what they are doing, what the organization’s prime mission is, and whether or not Summer Wells and her family became intertwined, got in their way, things of that nature that would cause something like this to happen.”


Don and Candus have been asked if they know anyone that might have been involved with Summer’s disappearance. In an interview with NewsNationNow, Don mentioned that his wife had chosen the “wrong friends” in the past.

Donald then described Candus as a "good mother" who "loves her children."

"The biggest mistake she might have made is maybe she was in some wrong friends, but you know … it happens," Summer's dad said at the end of the short video clip shared to Twitter.

The day before Summer went missing, Don had reportedly fired a man from his job after he showed up high on crystal meth.

“I can’t prove it,” said he said. “I fired him and the very next day, my daughter disappeared.”

Don said the man had spoken to the police and provided an alibi.


Experts have suggested that Candus displayed "red flags" and may "know more" than she let on during an interview with Dr Phil.

The two experts on the show, Scott Rouse and Greg Hartley, said that they don't believe Summer's parents hurt their daughter. "I don't think either one of them killed or injured Summer," Hartley said.

However, both experts ruled out any suspicion on Don, believing that he's has told the truth the entire time and isn't hiding any information from the public. But Candus' strange behavior during the show raised questions.

"Candus, if you don't have guilty knowledge, if you know anything, this is your [chance] … because you show signs that you're hiding something," said Hartley.

Rouse added: "The reason we think you're hiding something is that every time we mention the Cornbread Mafia [local organized crime], which you don't know about, that tears you up.

"You emotionally fall apart. We see signs of stress."

Candus continued to insist that she did not know anything, despite Rouse and Hartley pointing out body language "red flags" that she was exhibiting.


Summer, 5, was last seen on June 15 outside of her family's home in Hawkins County's Beach Creek Community, Tennessee.

Her family said at the time that she had been in the front yard planting flowers with her mother and grandmother when she disappeared back inside the home to play with her toys at around 6:30 pm. She was never seen again.

The family maintains that Summer was abducted by an unknown perpetrator, but so far no evidence has surfaced to support the theory.

The parents have been accused across social media of being involved in Summer's disappearance, even receiving death threats. However, they have vehemently denied those claims.

The missing child's three young brothers were removed from the Wells family home six weeks after her disappearance.

Don also reportedly said that a lot of people were coming to him and accusing him of various things regarding the disappearance of his daughter.

During a podcast interview with host, Jennifer Youngblood, Don admitted the boys being taken was due to him "having an episode of drinking…"

During the Dr Phil interview, the couple briefly discussed steps they were taking to get their sons back.

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