Search continues for Justin Johnson

March 26, 2017

Authorities and volunteers are continuing the search for a Vanceburg man that was last seen at his home Thursday evening.

Sheriff Johnny Bivens said Justin Johnson, 28, was last seen about 8:00 p.m. Thursday at his home on Town Branch in Vanceburg.

He said Johnson’s red Chevrolet S-10 pick-up was found on Lower Twin Branch off McDowell Creek Road, south of Garrison, about 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Bivens said his office was contacted Friday by concerned family members after Johnson failed to return home when he said he would on Thursday night.

A K-9 search team with Kentucky Search Dog Association assists in the search for a missing Vanceburg man Sunday morning near where his pick-up was discovered. - Dennis Brown Photo

A K-9 search team with Kentucky Search Dog Association assists in the search for a missing Vanceburg man Sunday morning near where his pick-up was discovered. – Dennis Brown Photo

Members of the Kentucky Search Dog Association spent most of the day Sunday with search dogs in the area where Johnson’s pick-up was located.

“The teams indicated virtually the same information we collected with search teams from Rough Terrain Rescue on Saturday,” said Lewis County Emergency Management Director George Sparks.

Sparks said the specialized dogs indicated a direction of travel from the location of the truck utilizing scent from Johnson’s clothing.

He said after the dogs had cleared the immediate area that volunteers from the Garrison area also covered the area on horseback.

“With the rough and steep terrain the horseback riders were able to access areas that were difficult for teams on foot to reach,” Sparks said.

Officials prepare to begin a second full day of searching for a missing Vanceburg man on Lower Twin Branch south of Garrison. - Dennis Brown Photo

Officials prepare to begin a second full day of searching for a missing Vanceburg man on Lower Twin Branch south of Garrison. – Dennis Brown Photo

The teams with the Kentucky Search Dog Association will return on Monday after the dogs have rested and armed with information compiled on Sunday from cell phone records, Sparks said.

“With the assistance of Greg Taylor and Steve Zweigart with Buffalo Trace Search and Rescue we have compiled a map and will expand our search area with the latest information we have that could point to Mr. Johnson’s whereabouts,” said Sparks.

Bivens said he and his department have been involved in the case since he first heard about Johnson’s possible disappearance early Friday.

“I began making telephone calls and developing leads on Friday even before the location Mr. Johnson’s pick-up had been determined,” Bivens said.

“We are following all leads and deputies are actively assisting in the search for Mr. Johnson,” he added.

“We will continue to beat the bushes in our efforts to determine Mr. Johnson’s whereabouts,” Bivens said. “We have been and will continue to be diligent in locating Mr. Johnson and reuniting him with his loving family.”

Bivens added he and his deputies have been questioning Johnson’s friends and acquaintances in working to collect as much information as possible that could help point to what may have happened leading up to his disappearance.

Lewis County Judge Executive Todd Ruckel spent much of Saturday and Sunday with volunteers and search parties.

“I want to commend our local officials, firefighters, volunteers and residents for their efforts in helping with with the search for Justin,” Ruckel said.

“I want to thank the volunteer search teams who have traveled here and worked tirelessly in helping to locate him,” he added.

“The community members have shown their support through volunteer efforts as well as providing meals and hospitality for those working to bring Justin home to his family,” he said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and for a favorable outcome to our efforts,” Ruckel said.

Justin Johnson

Justin Johnson

Johnson is 6’2″ tall, 145 pounds with a slender build. He has short brown hair and hadn’t shaved for a few days.

He was last seen wearing a black tee-shirt, light blue jeans, dark brown work boots, a camo cap and had a black jacket with him.

“Any information at all, even if it seems insignificant, could be the information we need to lead us to Mr. Johnson,” Bivens said.
Johnson’s fiancée, Nichole Gilliam, said Johnson had told her Thursday evening as he was leaving their home that he would return shortly.
“He kissed me and the baby before he left and said he would be back,” she said. Gilliam and Johnson have a one-year-old son.
She added that Johnson acted as usual and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“This baby is his world,” she said, adding she believes Johnson would never voluntarily disappear and not try to make contact with them.

Anyone who may have any information concerning Johnson’s whereabouts is urged to call the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at 606-796-2912.

Bivens said callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated confidentially.

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