Charges dropped in Cole Thomas’ disappearance; DA says case still open

Johnston County News

BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) – Charges filed against four men in the disappearance of Cole Thomas in 2016 have been dropped, the Johnston County district attorney said Wednesday.

Thomas, 22, vanished the night of Nov. 25, 2016 in Benson and his body has yet to be found.

He was on his way from Minnesota to Florida for Thanksgiving when he disappeared.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said the case remains open as the SBI continues to investigate.

She released a statement to CBS 17 that said:

“The investigation into the death of Cole Thomas is ongoing.  The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation continues to follow up on all new information.  After a thorough review of the case as it stands today, I made the decision to dismiss the current charges in order to avoid compromising any potential future homicide prosecutions.”

Julian Valles Jr., of Dudley, Anthony Ridell James Jr., of Mount Olive, Rudolfo DeLeon Jr., of Mount Olive and Jeremy Carpenter were charged in connection with his disappearance.

While they each faced a series of various charges – all were charged with felony concealment of a death.

All have been out on bond for several months.

In August 2017, the prosecution told the court that Thomas, Valles and Carpenter devised a plan to drive from Minnesota to North Carolina purchase a large amount of methamphetamine.

After obtaining the meth, the three were going to head back to Minnesota when they drove by sheriff’s deputy in Mount Olive. The prosecutor said at that point, Thomas became paranoid and eventually the drugs were thrown out the window of the vehicle.

Thomas then jumped from the vehicle and disappeared.

Friends, family and supporters spent months searching for any sign of Thomas in the Benson area but nothing has been found.

This story will be updated.

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