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Family of man found in pond upset over Johnston sheriff's office response

Posted December 24, 2012

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— The father of a man whose body was found in a pond near Benson this weekend says he doesn't think the Johnston County Sheriff's Office took the family seriously when it asked deputies to search the body of water.

Charles Thornton Sr. said Monday that he reported his son, Charles Thornton Jr., 41, missing around 10 p.m. Thursday after he never returned home from feeding fish at the family pond.

When the family went to authorities about the possibility that the younger Thornton might have fallen in the lake, Charles Thornton Sr. says he asked repeatedly for deputies to search the pond but was told the case didn't meet the criteria for doing so.

Johnston County sheriff's Capt. Chris Strickland said investigators searched Thursday and Friday at the pond and in surrounding areas but found no indication that anyone fell in.

Family members found Charles Thornton Jr.'s body Saturday afternoon after they used a grappling hook to drag the bottom of the pond.

The body was so decomposed that the family says they cannot have an open-casket funeral.

Authorities and the family say they are both awaiting autopsy results to find out how Thornton died.

Thornton lived in South Dakota and had three young children.

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  • babscash Dec 28, 11:21 a.m.

    DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT
    The outcome would not have been the same. The body wouldn't be decomposed and the family wouldn't have had to drag the pond and see the horrific scene and the image engraved in their minds. Yes, he would be gone but the thought of his body being more tramatized is not what any parent, sister, brother sibling wants for their loved one.

  • Wheat Thin Dec 26, 6:11 p.m.

    Sherlock... "On TV they call it looking for clues". Because all of those crime dramas that you watch on TV are based on factual police work, genius. I watched a doctor perform surgery once on Grey's Anatomy, now I know how to do it also.

  • Sherlock Dec 26, 12:08 p.m.

    This is just a case of individuals to lazy to do their jobs correctly, which is based upon poor training and leadership. On TV they call it looking for clues....

  • novacrazy2000 Dec 26, 10:34 a.m.

    this is truely a sad story and I feel for the family.
    But one day I feel we will all have to start policing this counrty ourselfs. law inforcement is not for law it's for money.

  • Dynol Yn Cael Ei Dec 24, 4:38 p.m.

    What a shame!

    There are times when the Johnston County Sheriff's office is a joke. Glad they all aren't like that.

    Praying for this family. What a horror it must've been for them to have to drag that lake on their own and pull up that decomposed body of their loved one. Had the sheriff's office done it, they could have been somewhat sheltered from it.

    And what "criteria" didn't this fit for dragging the pond anyway? A guy goes down to a pond to feed the fish and never returns, and the authorities don't drag the pond?

    Where'd they look? In the treetops then?

    Absurd!!!

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 24, 4:31 p.m.

    I have to believe the press is taking one comment and making it sound like the family is upset. Whether the police searched that pond then or now, the outcome would have been the same.

  • tiggerjd3 Dec 24, 4:22 p.m.

    This really does not surprise me in. I live in Benson also and at the end of my road is a dead end with a cemetery on one side. My kids and I were riding four wheelers down there and spotted a car with 2 people in it with the seats all the way back. I did not get close enough to see if they were breathing, but went home and called the Sheriffs office. I could tell she did not take me seriously. Two days later, the car was still there and called again. I told them that I had already called 2 days before and that they needed to go down there. They finally sent someone. Just goes to show that they really do not do their job. Lots of money wasted, as usual.