Justin Gaines: What Happened to Him? Was He Murdered?

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Justin Gaines returned home from college for a weekend in November 2007, intending to spend time with friends, go to clubs, and enjoy typical young adult activities. However, he never made it back home. His family and friends launched an extensive search for Justin, but it yielded little success. Despite occasional leads, none proved fruitful. The ‘Downing Creek’ podcast delves into the details of his disappearance and attempts to answer the many questions surrounding the case.

Justin Gaines Never Returned Home From The Club

Born on March 31, 1989, Justin was the second oldest of Erika Wilson’s eight children. Growing up in a big family, Justin was playful, active, and loved the outdoors. He and his siblings often went camping, a tradition that continued even after they moved from Westlake, Ohio, to Snellville, Georgia. When his mother married Steven Wilson, Justin quickly accepted him and soon saw him as a father figure. He worked hard and aspired to be a man who took care of his parents.

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In 2007, after finishing high school with flying colors, Justin enrolled at Gainesville State College to stay close to home and his family. He was having a positive experience in college; meeting new people and seeing the plethora of opportunities made it seem like the possibilities were endless. On the first weekend of November, he decided to return home, meet up with some of his high school friends, and wind down a bit. On the evening of November 1, the day he returned home, he made plans to go out with his friend Chris and his girlfriend. Justin left the house with them but never returned.

Shortly after 2 am on November 2, Justin tried calling a few friends to pick him up from Wild Bill’s, the bar in Duluth where he had been that evening, but his phone went silent after that. The next day, no one heard from him, and his friends started calling his parents to ask if he was with them. His mother logged into his college dashboard and saw that he had failed to submit an assignment the following Monday, which was very unlikely for him. He had not been showing signs of any emotional distress, which would’ve suggested that he had run away on his own will. In light of these revelations, the police immediately launched an investigation into the missing person.

Justin Gaines Was Last Seen Leaving the Club With a Woman

On the night that Justin Gaines disappeared, he went to the club with his friends, but they did not have passes to access it. Justin managed to get inside while his friends stayed outside. The club was packed with people. When the police later scrutinized the CCTV footage, they saw Justin exiting through the back door, looking for a ride home. He had tried calling a couple of cab companies and had contacted the friend who had dropped him off at the club. Some witnesses reported seeing him leaving in a car with a blonde woman in a black dress, but the woman was never located.

CCTV footage of Justin at the club

As the days passed and the on-ground search for Justin lost momentum, the police informed the family that they suspected foul play. His cell phone had pinged a couple of hours after his last call attempt, but its location was unusual. It was in the opposite direction and closer to Lake Lanier in Georgia. However, no eyewitnesses had seen Justin walking along the road, leading the police to suspect that he got a lift and was taken to another location.

The first actual lead the police received came from Dylan Glass. With a history of criminal activity and known for engaging in drug exchanges in the area, Dylan’s information was significant. He claimed that on the night Justin disappeared, he was also at the club and noticed Justin flashing some money, which drew his attention. Dylan said he took Justin to a secluded spot and assaulted him, but he insisted that he had left Justin alive. The police found a photograph of Dylan from a pawn shop taken the day after Justin’s disappearance, showing him wearing a diamond earring similar to the one Justin had worn to the nightclub. However, with no other evidence and Dylan unable to locate Justin’s body, he was never charged with the crime.

Many Theories Have Been Propounded About Justin’s Whereabouts

Justin’s mother also mentioned that before the missing person investigation was even launched, she had heard rumors about Dylan owning up to her son’s murder, which led her to believe there was more to the story. Despite these suspicions, the police have had no other successes in the case. They theorize that Justin was enjoying himself at the club and that the money he had on him, along with his diamond earring, likely caught the attention of someone who might have lured him away with the help of a female accomplice—possibly a woman with blonde hair wearing a black dress.

As Justin would have gone along with her, the authorities believe they might have attacked, robbed, and ultimately killed him, as per the theories. Another supposition the police consider plausible is that Justin might have met a woman who invited him to a party where he allegedly got into a scuffle and was killed. The police also believe that his body was initially dumped in Lake Lanier, but when it floated up and came to shore, they would have taken the body and dumped it somewhere in the Appalachee River.

No staunch evidence regarding Justin’s whereabouts has not been found to date, making the case even more challenging to solve. He has not been declared legally dead, and the police are treating it as a case of homicide, as per the show. Meanwhile, his family continues to fight for justice. They believe someone has more information and have offered a $25,000 reward for any helpful leads. The case remains active, and authorities hope they will solve it soon.

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