Local News

Family, police mark a year since Cole Thomas disappeared in Benson

Posted November 24, 2017 3:41 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— Saturday marks a year since a man driving home to Florida for Thanksgiving dinner from a job in Minnesota disappeared in Johnston County.

Christopher Cole Thomas was 22 when he was last seen in Benson near East Main Street around 1 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2016.

Although his body hasn't been found, authorities believe he is dead. They used the anniversary of his disappearance to again ask the public for assistance in discovering what happened to him.

Friends initially told authorities that Christopher Cole Thomas, who goes by Cole, jumped out of a car near North Elm and East Morgan streets and vanished. They later admitted that they and Thomas had been involved in a drug deal before his disappearance. They said they had purchased methamphetamine from an acquaintance and that Thomas then became paranoid and started driving erratically before he stopped the car and ran off.

Four men have been charged with concealing Thomas' death}: Julian Valles Jr, 34, of Dudley, Anthony Ridell James Jr., 26, and Rudolfo DeLeon Jr., 27, both of Mount Olive, and Jeremy Carpenter, of Minnesota.

Benson police on Friday shared surveillance images of Thomas taken hours before his disappearance. In them, he is wearing a light blue T-shirt, a black, long-sleeve undershirt, black pants with what is believed to be a white “Nike swoosh” logo, dark-colored “Hurley” shoes, and a blue baseball cap with a white mesh back.

There is a $10,000 reward available to anyone who can provide information that leads to the location of Thomas' body, and a $5,000 reward for information that leads to further arrests and conviction anyone responsible for his disappearance.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Benson Police Department at 919-894-2091 or the NC State Bureau of Investigation – Raleigh Office at 919-779-8188 (toll-free: 800-334-3000).

Benson Chief of Police Kenneth Edwards said, “As a parent myself, I can only imagine how difficult a year this has been for Cole’s family. Our staff, and our investigative partners have worked tirelessly to find answers for them, and we will continue to do so. Our commitment remains to finding Cole Thomas, no matter how long that takes, to reuniting him with his family, and to obtaining justice for him."