Sheriff: 'Person of Interest' in Disappearance of Justin Gaines
WALTON COUNTY, Ga. - The search for Justin Gaines continued on Thursday. For the fourth day in a row, law enforcement was focusing the search on a piece of property in Walton County.
Authorities are hoping that a tip may be the catalyst to break the 8-year-old case in the disappearance of Justin Gaines wide open.
“We received information from a credible source that Justin Gaines' body was placed in a well on this property,” said Sheriff Butch Conway.
The search resumed Wednesday morning in Walton County for a Gwinnett County man. Gaines, 18 at the time, disappeared in November of 2007. The last time anyone saw him was at the Wild Bill's venue in Duluth.
The sheriff would not go into details about where the tip came from, but believes it is the break the cold case needed.
“Well, it's coming from somebody close to the incident that happened. That's why we a calling them a person of interest. It is the most credible lead to this point,” said Sheriff Conway.
For three days Gwinnett County, Walton County, and the Department of Natural Resources have searched this isolated property on Georgia Highway 186 at the Oconee-Walton-Morgan county lines.
Heavy cranes, bobcats and pump trucks have been used to clear the brush as well as drain the wells so they can be searched. Investigators said the tedious work could take another hour or another week.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said they are assisting investigators. Sonar equipment, able to do water searches, was brought in on Wednesday.
“Wells are being drained and searched,” said Sheriff Conway. “We got some very deep wells here. Some of them open, so they got a lot of residue, leaves, limbs and such.”
The sheriff also said charges could come if this lead pans out.
“I just want him home. I want him to find his way home no matter what it is. I am ready,” said Justin’s mother, Erika Wilson.
Wilson is hoping this tip ends here 8 years of heartache. A reward in the case has helped generate hundreds of tips in the case, but Wilson is hoping this is the one that finally brings some closure.