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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

National Missing Children's Day: 5 AMBER alerts remain unsolved in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On average, about 500 to 600 children go missing in Tennessee each month, with about eight to nine AMBER alerts issued each year, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Across the nation, the numbers are even greater. Thursday, May 25 marks the 40th annual National Missing Children’s Day, which serves as a reminder of the many children who still have not returned home.

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, as the first National Missing Children’s Day in honor of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice.

Etan’s killer was convicted decades later in Feb. 2017, but the DOJ said the case remains active because his body was never found. His murder was followed by a series of tragic cases that prompted the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Among those cases were the Atlanta child murders that claimed the lives of 29 children and young adults between 1979 and 1981. In a press release, the NCMEC said the abduction and brutal murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh in 1981 “highlighted the critical need for action.”

Then, in 1982, Congress passed the Missing Children’s Act, which enabled the FBI to include information on missing children in its National Crime Information Center database (NCIC). The NCMEC was officially opened two years later.

Since then, the NCMEC has played a role in locating more than 400,000 missing children by working with law enforcement, as well as families, victims, private organizations and the public. In 2022 alone, the NCMEC assisted in 27,644 cases involving missing children.

In Tennessee, the TBI works with the NCMEC to issue statewide AMBER alerts when a person 17 years old or younger is in imminent danger. While the system has led to the safe recovery of several children, there are some alerts that have remained active for years.

According to the TBI, there are still five active AMBER alerts for missing Tennessee children, with some dating back as far as 2011 and 2012. There also is one active Tennessee Endangered Child Alert that was initially issued on Sept. 22, 2015.

As a part of National Missing Children’s Day people are encouraged to stay informed and share a poster of a missing child in their area. Below is a list of the six Tennessee children with active alerts who still have not been found.

Anyone with any information on any of Tennessee’s missing children is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Zaylee Grace Fryer


Zaylee Grace Fryer was only 4 months old when she and her mother, Shauna, vanished from their Millersville home on May 1, 2011. Shauna’s husband reported them missing two to three days later, according to Millersville police.

Then on May 7, Shauna’s body was found in the Cumberland River near the Cowan Street bridge in Nashville. It took investigators until May 10 to know for sure it was Zaylee’s mother. Police said they believe she was dead before her body was ever in the river.

However, 12 years later, Zaylee has still not been found. In an interview with News 2 in 2021, Millersville detectives revealed that Shauna’s husband was their main suspect. The TBI interviewed him after her body was found, but he has since passed away.

Zaylee’s biological father was in jail at the time of her disappearance and ruled out as a suspect. While chances of finding Zaylee now seem slim, the Millersville Police Department is continuing to search for answers in the decade-old case.

If Zaylee is still out there, detectives have preserved a part of Shauna’s liver so they could get a DNA hit with a cheek swab. At the time of her disappearance, Zaylee had black hair, brown eyes and weighed about 12 pounds. She also has a quarter size brown birthmark on her right leg.

Gage Daniel and Chloie Leverett

Chloie Leverette and Gage Daniel 2
Chloie Leverette and Gage Daniel

Then 9-year-old Chloie Leverette and then 7-year-old Gage Daniel were believed to have died in a house fire in Bedford County with their grandparents on Sept. 23, 2012, until investigators searched for several days and never found the children’s remains.

Officials confirmed their grandparents, the family dog and a pet bird died in the fire when they discovered their remains, but there were never any signs of Chloie and Gage among the ash. After days of sifting through the rubble, the TBI issued an AMBER alert.

Investigators have previously told News 2 it would have been impossible for the children to be in the house during the fire and not have left behind some form of remains, such as teeth. In 2022, their mother told News 2 she believes they were kidnapped.

More than 10 years later, they are still missing. At the time of their disappearance, Chloie had brown hair and blue eyes and weighed about 75 pounds. Gage had brown hair and hazel eyes and weighed about 50 pounds.

Eva Alejandra Lopez

Eva Alejandra Lopez (Courtesy: TBI)

Eva Alejandra Lopez was 15 years old when she went missing from her home in Winchester on Sept. 22, 2015. An East Tennessee Endangered Child Alert was issued on behalf of the Winchester Police Department after her disappearance.

According to the TBI, Lopez may be traveling with 25-year-old Avaron Gamez Martinez, who is wanted for six counts of aggravated statutory rape. She was last seen at her home, and her direction of travel is unknown.

At the time, Lopez was about 5’4″ tall, weighed about 150 pounds and had green eyes and brown hair. It is unclear what kind of clothing she was wearing at the time of her disappearance. Little other details are available on her disappearance.

Summer Wells

Summer Wells
Summer Wells (Courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Then 5-year-old Summer Wells was planting flowers with her mother and grandmother just before she disappeared from her home in Hawkins County on June 15, 2021.

In an interview shortly after her disappearance, Summer’s father told News 2 she went back into the house, and when her mother went to check on her, she was gone. Her family believes she wouldn’t have wondered off on her own and may have been kidnapped.

The TBI received numerous tips after issuing an Endangered Child Alert that was later upgraded to an AMBER alert because of “new information and growing concern,” and more than 100 first responders combed the areas near Summer’s home.

However, Summer has still not been found. When she was last seen, Summer was wearing grey pants, a pink shirt and was possibly barefoot. At the time, she had blonde hair and blue eyes and weighed about 40 pounds.

Kennedy Hoyle

Kennedy Hoyle
Kennedy Hoyle is 6 lbs. and 17 inches long. She has brown hair and brown eyes. (Courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Memphis police reported Kennedy Hoyle, who was only two days old at the time, missing after her mother, Danielle, was found shot to death near an abandoned vehicle on Feb. 1, 2022. Kennedy’s father was arrested in connection with their deaths later that day.

According to court documents, Kennedy’s father admitted to luring Danielle to the intersection of Sedgwick and Levi and shooting her. He then told police that he took his two-day-old child to the north end of Mud Island and threw her into the water.

Kennedy’s car seat was found near a dumpster outside a Walmart in Whitehaven, police said. However, despite searches in the area, her remains still have not been recovered. Kennedy was last seen wearing a black and white polka dot onesie with pink pants.

Her father is facing charges for two counts of murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, murder in connection with kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

Anyone with any information on any of Tennessee’s missing children is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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