Get Adobe Flash player

Pickens Sheriff deputies reunite missing juvenile with worried family


Group of gingseng hunters on Burnt Mountain

became separated, lost

Pickens Sheriff Press Release 


On Friday, October 2nd, deputies responded to a trespassing report at a residence on Sunrise Ridge Road off of Hwy 136 in Jasper. 

Upon arriving, they learned that a homeowner had arrived home and found two males in the garage area of his residence asking to borrow his phone. The homeowner stated that they ran off when he told them that he was calling 911. He described the individuals as an adult and a juvenile with a dog.

At the same time, another deputy located another individual, later identified as Brandon Sanford, walking on Hwy 136, near the scenic overlook. While speaking with him, the deputy learned that he had outstanding warrants from Gilmer County for failure to appear in court.


After placing Mr. Sanford under arrest, he informed the deputy that his 11-year-old son was in the woods with another man that he only knew as Jonathan. 


When asked for clarification, Brandon stated that he, Jonathan and his 11-year-old son had been hunting for Ginseng Root and had a campsite somewhere in the woods between the Georgia Highland Subdivision and the Tate Mountain Estate area. He also said that he walked away from the campsite on the previous night to search for water and that he had not been able to find his way back.

Knowing that the child and the other male had already been in the woods for more than one day in heavy rain conditions, Deputy Bunch then notified his supervisor and an area command was set up to help locate the individuals. Our office also reached out to the public via social media to see if anyone could help locate the child.

After deputies and agents from the Department of Natural Resources searched through the night and the following morning, the child and other individual were located several miles into the woods at a campsite that had been set up. The child appeared to be ok and was transported to Piedmont Mountainside Medical Center to be evaluated and he was released to his grandmother.

Jonathan, later identified to be Jonathan Waters of Ellijay, Georgia was also arrested for his involvement. He has been charged by detectives with Burglary, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, Reckless Conduct, Unlawful Harvesting of Ginseng and may have additional charges pending. The father, Brandon, has additional charges pending as well. Detectives are also working with the Department of Family and Children Services to ensure that the child will have a safe home environment to remain.

Sheriff Donnie Craig was quoted “Making sure that we located the child safe and returned him to family has always been our number one priority and we could not have asked for a better outcome.”