Civil Defense Force helps in search
Crew finds no sign of missing 18-year-old

LILBURN - For weeks, Steven Wilson has been coordinating a search for his missing 18-year-old stepson by himself.

This Saturday, he was thankful to have some help.

While holiday shopping commenced at Gwinnett Place Mall, about 150 volunteers from the Georgia Civil Defense Force and 50 civilians congregated there to search for Justin Gaines, who disappeared from nearby Wild Bill's nightclub Nov. 1.

"They took a great burden off my shoulders today," said Wilson, Gaines' stepfather. "They've got the organization, the equipment, the knowledge to do this."

But the atmosphere at a headquarters at Berkmar United Methodist Church was grim Saturday, as the search of about six square miles yielded no leads and no new information.

"The only thing positive is we searched some areas that someone else doesn't have to search," Col. Rusty Hightower of the force said. "It's always our hope we can find something to shed some light and give some closure to the parents. It just didn't happen today."

Gaines' family and friends have searched nearly every day for some sign of the teenager, who was last heard from during a cell phone call at about 2 a.m.

"The evidence was so sketchy as to where he went," Maj. Bill McShane of Lawrenceville said. "We don't know. We just hope."

Wilson said his church hosted the family for Thanksgiving, but the holiday was not festive.

"He was, he is the life of our house," Wilson said of Gaines. "He was always the one telling jokes. You miss that. We miss him terribly."

The teenager is 5-foot-11, 230 pounds with blue eyes and a buzz cut. He was last seen wearing a gray Abercrombie long-sleeve shirt and ripped blue jeans.

There is a $13,000 reward for information leading to Gaines' whereabouts. Anonymous tips can go to 877-270-9500, or people can call police at 770-513-5383.