SNELLVILLE - A year and a half has passed since Justin Gaines went out to party and never came home.
In the intervening 19 months, investigators have followed leads until they reached threadbare ends, while family, friends and outside teams have scoured countless acres, ultimately to no avail.
No physical clues. No explanation. No Justin.
This week, a private investigator said he's shifting his focus, retracing his steps. Bob Poulnot, president of Investigative Connections Inc., called on the media to help him find two anonymous callers who rang a Texas tip line in the search's early stages.
The tipsters left viable clues but no identifiers for themselves, making them impossible to contact for interviews, Poulnot said. Neither of the callers are considered suspects in the Snellville man's disappearance, he said.
"Through recent interviews, these two callers have become even more important to the investigation," he said. "(They) gave information that's more important today than at the time of the calls."
The calls trickled in to an anonymous tip line set up by Texas Equusearch, a horse-mounted search and recovery team. Poulnot declined to elaborate on the content of the calls, saying leaked information could compromise the case.
The first call came from a woman Dec. 17, 2007, about six weeks after the 18-year-old Gainesville State College student vanished.
The second came March 20, 2008, this time a man saying he witnessed Gaines talking with two men the night he disappeared at Wild Bill's night club in Duluth - men the caller claimed to know, Poulnot said.
"We have no idea where they were calling from," Poulnot said. "It's truly an anonymous tip line."
Gaines, a Brookwood High School graduate, remains classified as a missing person. Poulnot has said he believes Gaines was murdered, his body disposed of somewhere in Georgia. No physical evidence has emerged, he said.
Gwinnett police, having reached a stalemate, suspended their investigation last year.
Numerous searches for Gaines - including a November 2007 campaign with 200 volunteers from Equusearch - have been fruitless. A $25,000 reward put up by his family still stands, Poulnot said.
"I believe the case is going to be solved, and I've said that before," he said. "It's a matter of time."
As for Gaines' family, said Poulnot, "they're doing as well as can be expected. They will never give up on trying to find their son."
Anyone with information pertaining to the anonymous callers or the case in general is urged to call Texas Equusearch at 877-270-9500 or Gwinnett police investigators at 770-513-5384.