To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Not now
OK
Advert
Advert
Advert

Man completely vanished on road trip to North Carolina with co-workers

Ella Scott

Published 
| Last updated 

Man completely vanished on road trip to North Carolina with co-workers

Featured Image Credit: Handouts/Thomas Family

Since vanishing in 2016, Cole Thomas’ disappearance has been the subject of many true crime podcasts and investigative TV shows. But what really happened to the Florida native?

Back in 2016, Thomas - real name Christopher Thomas - was a 22-year-old apprentice electrician and graduate of Suwannee High School.

Following his high school graduation, he’d attained a scholarship to study Sports Medicine at the University of Florida.

Advert

However, in December 2015 he took a break from his studies and returned home to Live Oak, Florida.

In November 2016, Thomas was reported missing by his coworkers Jeremy Carpenter and Julian Valles Jr. Both had been travelling from Minnesota to North Carolina for Thanksgiving with Thomas.

Cole Thomas went missing while driving home for Thanksgiving. Credit: Handouts/Thomas family
Cole Thomas went missing while driving home for Thanksgiving. Credit: Handouts/Thomas family

However, they allegedly reported to police that he had ‘suddenly stopped the vehicle, jumped out and ran away.’

Advert

This mysterious incident is thought to have happened near North Elm and East Morgan Streets in Benson, North Carolina.

More than a year after Thomas had gone missing, Carpenter and Valles were arrested. Anthony James and Rudolfo DeLeon Jr were also taken into custody.

All four men were arrested and charged with felony concealment of death, while Carpenter, Valles and James also faced obstruction of justice charges.

At the time of the arrests, Thomas' family released a statement.

Advert

They said: “Today marks 235 days since our son Cole Thomas vanished from our lives, this has been the most devastating thing that has hit our family, ever.

Loading…

"We have desperately waited for answers to where Cole is, we pray this will be the start of finding him."

They continued to thank everyone who had supported them through 'this nightmare and all who are aiding in bringing those to justice; there are too many to name'.

Advert

However, after serving just eight months in prison, the Superior Court decided that the bonds of Carpenter and James were to be reduced.

In 2018, it was reported that the former had his bond dramatically cut down from $500,000 to $75,000. He was also allowed to move home to his mother’s house in Alabama.

Meanwhile, James’ bond was reduced even further from $30,000 to $3,000 and he was allowed to reside at a relative’s home in Sampson County.

All four men arrested in connection with Thomas' disappearance were released. Credit: CBS
All four men arrested in connection with Thomas' disappearance were released. Credit: CBS
Advert

By the time the bonds of Carpenter and James had been reduced, Valles and DeLeon were already bonded out.

Despite the initial arrests, all charges against the quartet of men were officially dropped in 2019.

Regarding the decision to acquit Carpenter and co, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said: "The investigation into the death of Cole Thomas is ongoing.

“The SBI 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.”

Thomas' family run a Facebook page and hope to find their son. Credit: Handouts/Thomas family
Thomas' family run a Facebook page and hope to find their son. Credit: Handouts/Thomas family

Seven years after going missing, Thomas’ body is still yet to be found. However, his family hasn't given up hope that their son is still alive.

They currently run a Facebook group called ‘Find Cole Thomas’ where updates and positive sentiments from across the globe are posted.

Thomas' disappearance has been covered by American shows such as Small Town Secrets and numerous true crime podcasts such as What Remains.

Topics: Community, Crime, US News

Ella Scott
More like this
Advert
Advert
Advert

Chosen for YouChosen for You

Community

Woman who got 'world's ugliest tattoo' says she tries not to cry when looking at it

an hour ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

Machine Gun Kelly has officially changed his name on Spotify

11 hours ago