• Police suspend search for Gwinnett man missing since 2007

    By: Tony Thomas


    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County authorities have suspended their on-site search near Dacula for a man who has been missing since 2007.

    Sheriff's deputies spent hours Thursday afternoon and Friday morning digging in an old well off Old Freeman Mill Road for clues in the Justin Gaines case. Authorities left the site empty-handed.

    "We are suspending this operation today," said Gwinnett County Sheriff Deputy Shannon Volkodav. “They're satisfied at this site that until they have more information they are finished at this site."

    Gaines was last seen in November 2007 in front of Wild Bill's nightclub in Duluth. Surveillance video showed him shaking hands with two friends then walking away.

    Authorities have classified the case as a missing person's case ever since and continue to work leads. Gaines' mother, Erika Wilson, believes her son was murdered.

    "It would be easier not having the ups and downs of they are out looking for him, are they going to find him today, is today the day?" Wilson told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas on Friday.

    Thomas spoke to Wilson in her Snellville home, where she has several pictures of Gaines on a table in the family's den.

    "I like to look at them every day. Sometimes I pick him up and give him a kiss." Wilson said. "You are hoping they find him so, you know, but you don't want to know it's final."

    Authorities won't say exactly what led them to the old homestead site just north of Georgia 316.

    Thomas' sources tell him the focus was on an old well that was believed to have been located in the area authorities were digging.

    Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway used a large backhoe to move a large amount of dirt at the site.

    For Wilson, this week is a tough one anyway. Gaines' 25th birthday is Monday, March 31.

    "We deserve closure and this is what we want. Even though we are scared to hear it if they call and say they found Justin, I won't be happy but I will be relieved," Wilson said.

    "I won't get discouraged, I won't lose hope if it's not this time, it will happen," she said.

    Both Gwinnett County police and the sheriff's office continue to investigate the case. The family also has a private investigator.

    Two rewards are still being offered: one for $25,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the location of Gaines' remains or to the conviction of someone responsible for his disappearance, the other for $50,000 for information leading to the safe return of Gaines.

    The family has a website at justingaines.com.

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