Georgia mother still searching for son who vanished from a club in 2007

In 2007, 18-year-old Justin Gaines was a college freshman at the then-Gainesville State College. “He loved it. He would always update me on how he was doing,” Erika Wilson told Dateline about her son. In one of his first assignments for his English class, Justin wrote a paper about how his college experience was going so far. “In his paper he said he hoped he did well so one day he could take care of his mom — like me and my husband took care of him,” she said.

Justin was born in Westlake, Ohio. When he was 6, his family moved to Snellville, Georgia — a quaint suburb just east of Atlanta.

Justin grew up in a big family. As the second oldest of eight siblings, he always had someone around to play with. “They always loved to play games, go swimming, go out exploring,” Erika said. The family enjoyed camping and taking trips to Myrtle Beach, too. “We just always had a good time,” Erika added.

Erika told Dateline that when it came time to enroll in college, Justin knew he wanted to stay close to home, where his friends and family were. Gainesville State College — now the University of North Georgia — is located in Oakwood, about an hour’s drive from Snellville.