WCSO Cold Case is investigating 2007 disappearance of an 18-year-old student

Note: Each month, The Walton Tribune, with the assistance of the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, is highlight a current cold case. Please contact the WCSO if you have any information on these unsolved cases.

This month, the disappearance of Justin Gaines if being highlighted.

During the late evening/early morning hours of Nov. 7, 2007, 18-year-old University of North Georgia College Freshman Justin Gaines was present at Wild Bill’s Nightclub in Duluth, near Gwinnett Place Mall in Gwinnett County. Justin was last seen at approximately 1:30 a.m., entering a vehicle with several individuals.

Shortly after his disappearance a missing person’s call was placed by the Gaines family. This incident was extensively investigated by the Gwinnett County Police Homicide Division and later
included extensive investigation efforts by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, Barrow County Sheriff’s Office, City of Monroe Police Department and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2015, officers from multiple agencies searched the High Shoals area near the Apalachee River in Walton County, working on a tip from an inmate jailed in the local jail that Gaines’ body might be in an old well. At that time, The Gwinnett Sheriff’s Office, DNR Rangers and Georgia State Patrol, that included a search in three wells and a pond in the area. That search was subsequently called off.Gaines, of Snellville, was 18 at the time he was last seen on Nov. 2, 2007 at Wild Bill’s near Duluth.

During the spring of 2022, investigative efforts have been focused on Walton County and are being conducted by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit.

Anyone with knowledge of Justin’s whereabouts or knowledge of individuals involved in his disappearance are asked to contact Walton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Michael Rising at 770-266-1556 or email michael.rising@co.walton.ga.us. All contacts will be kept confidential.

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