Smithfield police hope sketch leads to ID of body found in Neuse River

The body was found as crews cleared debris from the bridge's columns. (Justin Quesinberry/CBS North Carolina)

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – Smithfield police are again asking for help in identifying a body found in the Neuse River in April.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation crew was working to clear debris from support columns on the Neuse River Bridge on U.S. 301 around 3 p.m. on April 25 when the body was found.


On April 27, Smithfield police said the body was that of a white male who was 5 feet 3 inches tall and has a black and red tattoo on the upper right arm and shoulder.

But on Wednesday, Smithfield police said the medical examiner could not confirm the victim’s race or ethnicity but they could have been Caucasian, Asian, or Hispanic.

(Source: Smithfield Police)

A full image of the victim’s shoulder tattoo could not be created “due to the state of the body,” police said.

Smithfield police, Benson police and the Medical Examiner’s Office worked jointly to determine the body is not Cole Thomas.

The body was found as heavy rains flooded much of central North Carolina but the man’s death was not related to the flooding, police said.

Smithfield police said foul play is suspected.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective R.L. Johnson at the Smithfield Police Department at (919) 934-2121. A cash reward is being offered to anyone who provides substantial information in identifying the victim. If a caller wishes to remain anonymous they may call the tip line at (919) 989-8835 or go to the Town of Smithfield Webpage

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