UPDATE 7/25/17 – Authorities have arrested Julian Valles Jr., 34,of Dudley,Rudolfo DeLeon Jr., 27, of Mt. Olive, and Anthony Ridell James Jr., 26, of Mt. Olive into custody on July 17th. Jeremy Brian Carpenter, 42, of Taylor Falls, Minnesota, was taken into custody in Minnesota on July 18. According to ABC11, Carpenter has been charged with 4 counts of felony obstruction of justice, and 1 count of felony concealment of a death. He is being held on a $500,000 bond. Valles has been charged with 3 counts of felony obstruction of justice, and 1 count of felony concealment of a death, James is charged with 1 count of felony obstruction of justice, and 1 count of felony concealment of a death and DeLeon is charged with 1 count of felony concealment of a death.
Find Cole Thomas Facebook Page posted:
“I want to let everyone how grateful we are as Cole Thomas’ family for all the love, prayers, support, and endless sharing and searching,” her posting read, in part. “Please pray for conviction on the hearts of these guys who were with him because they know what happened to Cole.”
Original Story: 22-year-old Christopher Cole Thomas has been missing since November 25, 2016 from Benson, North Carolina.
Cole, as his family and friends call him, sent a text to his father on November 24, 2016 saying,” Happy Thanksgiving. I love you!” His father had no idea that would be the last time he would hear from his son in over 100 days.
Cole Thomas grew up in Live Oak, Florida. He graduated High School from Suwannee High School in Live Oak as the Salutatorian of his class. He earned a dual A.A. degree from North Florida Community College in Madison, Florida. In addition Cole received a Florida Merit Scholarship to attend college and he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Cole had recently decided to leave college and pursue a career as an Electrical Apprentice.
Cole was in Minnesota for a job where he met co-workers Julian Valles and Jeremy Carpenter. He had known them for about 3 weeks when (according to the initial missing persons report) the 3 men drove to North Carolina for Thanksgiving. At some point during this trip, Cole went missing.
The CUE Center For Missing Persons has been in Benson since week one of Cole’s disappearance. They have been an invaluable resource to the family, and a driving force in keeping Cole’s case active.
There are conflicting stories throughout the internet, from news reports to comments on a Facebook page set up to help find Cole, appropriately called Find Cole Thomas. Initially, I started out to write every piece of information I could find about Cole’s case, but due to the conflicting nature of the information I found, and the fact that Cole’s case is still very much an active investigation, I have decided to cover the basic facts provided to me by the Benson Police Department via press releases and phone conversations. As more information becomes available to the public, I will update this article to keep you informed.
Here is what we do know to be fact:
Christopher Cole Thomas
Weight: 200 lbs.
Hair: Brown/ Blonde
Last Seen Wearing: Blue T-shirt/ Black Pants/ Blue Cap
The missing persons case involving Christopher Cole Thomas began on Friday, November 25, 2016. He was reported missing to the Benson Police Department by his two co-workers, Julian Valles and Jeremy Carpenter, at approximately 3:13 AM that morning.
Mr. Valles and Mr. Carpenter told law enforcement that the three men were in town for Thanksgiving. They stated that they had been traveling to Interstate 40, heading to Durham, North Carolina, when they exited off the interstate and drove into Benson. They said Cole suddenly stopped the vehicle he was driving, which was owned by Julian Valles, in the area of North Elm Street and East Morgan Street, jumped out and ran away. They said they attempted to find him, but were unable to. That is when they reported the incident to the Benson Police Department.
Law Enforcement followed standard protocol, including entering Cole Thomas as a missing person. Officers were unable to ascertain any family information at the time of the report. However within days Cole’s family had been contacted and have been working closely with the Benson Police department since.
In the early part of the investigation several searches to find Cole Thomas were conducted by Police, Fire and Ems personnel. They were joined by various local and state agencies. Specialized personnel, k-9 units, aircraft, and advanced techniques were all utilized, in addition to investigative intel. To date, over 50 ground searches and 2 aerial searches have been performed. The most recent ground search, a community search put on by Peggy DeLeon, took place this past Saturday, March 18, 2017.
As a new year came around, Cole’s case remained active. On January 3, 2017, over 40 law enforcement officials from the Benson Police Department, along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Sheriff’s offices from surrounding jurisdictions, and other law enforcement agencies conducted another detailed search for Christopher Cole Thomas in the town of Benson, North Carolina.
The Benson Police Department and its partners are continuously searching for Cole, because he was last seen in Benson. They have spent thousand of hours on searches and followed every lead that has come into the office. Due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, they cannot comment on those leads at this time. They are urging citizens of Benson to continue searching their personal buildings, land and grounds for anything suspicious.
One of the primary focuses of their investigation has been to determine a confirmed “last known location” for Cole Thomas. In the early stages of the investigation, surveillance footage was obtained that depicted Cole and his co-workers at a convenience store in Mt. Olive, North Carolina, between 11:37 PM and 11:50 PM on November 24, 2016.
Later investigators were able to locate additional surveillance footage from a business in Benson, which showed two subjects, appearing to match the general description of Cole and an acquaintance, walking South through a parking lot between East Church Street and East Main Street, at 1:10 AM on November 25, 2016. Law enforcement submitted the video for technical enhancing. The footage was returned to the Benson Police Department on January 11, 2017. On January 12, 2017, Cole Thomas’s parents were shown the video. They generally agreed the subjects in the footage appeared to be Cole and one of his co-workers.
Due to the latest surveillance footage, the last known confirmed location of Cole Thomas is now believed to be the parking lots between First Citizen bank, First Federal Bank, and BB&T Bank on the 300 block of east Main Street in Benson.
On February 17, 2017, a Proclamation was issued by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, offering a reward of up to $5,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the disappearance of Christopher Cole Thomas.
In addition, Cole’s family has put up a $10,000.00 reward for information leading to the direct location of Cole.
Anyone with information pertaining to the whereabouts of Christopher Cole Thomas is asked to call the Benson Police Department at 919-894- 2091, or the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation-Raleigh office at 919-779-8188.