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Digging suspended in Justin Gaines investigation

Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office use a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. Authorities are acting on a lead in the long-unsolved disappearance of Justin Gaines. Gaines, then 18, was last seen leaving Wild Bill’s nightclub in Duluth on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. Digging has now been suspended.


Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office take a quick break from using a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office take a quick break from using a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Justin Gaines

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Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office use a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. Authorities are acting on a lead in the long-unsolved disappearance of Justin Gaines. Gaines, then 18, was last seen leaving Wild Bill's nightclub in Duluth on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway talks with other members from the Sheriff’s Office while using a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

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Tape is used to block off the area where members of the Gwinnett County Sheriffճ Office search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office digging in a rural area of Dacula suspended their work late Friday morning related to the six-year investigation into the disappearance of Justin Gaines.

Spokeswoman Deputy Shannon Volkodav said despite the light rain and damp ground, the Sheriff’s Office resumed work in a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road after they stopped at about 6:45 p.m. on Thursday. Volkodav did not say why the work was suspended, but that they were “satisfied with their search.”

“It always requires a lot of hard work, and a lot of patience,” Volkodav said.

Volkodav said investigators called the Dacula site an “area of interest” after they received various leads.

Volkodav estimated that investigators worked the area for a combined nine or 10 hours between Thursday and Friday.

She declined to say if investigators had communicated with Gaines’ family, or if they would continue work this weekend or at other sites.

Among the investigators were Sheriff Butch Conway who ran the earth-moving equipment himself.

“That is an example of his dedication in working this case,” Volkodav said.

Gaines, an 18-year-old college student and Snellville native, disappeared on Nov. 2, 2007 after he was last seen outside Wild Bill’s in Duluth.

Surveillance footage at Wild Bill’s showed Gaines outside the club at about 2 a.m. Authorities believe he was calling friends in attempts to find a ride.

Private investigators, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and Gwinnett County Police Department have worked the case over the years.

Gaines’ 25th birthday is on Monday.

Two rewards are still active. A $50,000 reward is for any information that leads to the safe return of Gaines, while a $25,000 reward is for any information that leads to the whereabouts of Gaines.

If you have any information, contact Gwinnett County Police at 770-513-5300.

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LOCATION OF SEARCH

LOCATION OF SEARCH
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Digging suspended in Justin Gaines investigation

Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office use a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. Authorities are acting on a lead in the long-unsolved disappearance of Justin Gaines. Gaines, then 18, was last seen leaving Wild Bill’s nightclub in Duluth on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. Digging has now been suspended.

Members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office use a backhoe to search a wooded area off Drowning Creek Road in Dacula on Friday. Authorities are acting on a lead in the long-unsolved disappearance of Justin Gaines. Gaines, then 18, was last seen leaving Wild Bill’s nightclub in Duluth on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007. Digging has now been suspended.