3 arrested in case of Cole Thomas, man reported missing from Benson

BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina authorities have arrested three people and charged them in connection with the death of Cole Thomas, who was reported missing from Benson last year, the Benson police said Monday.

UPDATE: Man named in Cole Thomas investigation now charged with concealing a death


None of them are facing murder charges.

Julian Valles Jr., 34, of Dudley; Anthony Ridell James Jr., 26, of Mt. Olive; and Rudolfo DeLeon Jr., 27, of Mt. Olive; all face charges of felony concealment of a death. Valles also faces three counts of felony obstruction of justice, and James is facing one count of felony obstruction of justice.


Valles is listed in a previous search warrant as someone who knows Thomas. On Nov. 25, 2016, Valles told Benson police he was in the car with Thomas the night Thomas disappeared, the search warrant said.

DeLeon’s bond was set at $1 million secured. Valles’ was set at $750,000 secured. James’ was set at $350,000. The three are being held in the Johnston County Jail.

Investigators presented evidence to a Johnston County Grand Jury last week. The grand jury returned indictments, and arrests were made Monday by Benson police, the sheriff’s offices in Wayne and Harnett counties and the State Bureau of Investigation.

RELATED: ‘I will do everything to find him,’ says father of man reported missing from Benson

The arrested trio appeared in court Monday morning. The next court date for all three is August 7.

In late November, two men told police that Thomas was driving the car they were riding in when he parked in a Benson intersection and ran from the car, taking the keys with him.

Thomas was 22 when he disappeared.

RELATED: Benson police, SBI conduct 27 searches looking for Cole Thomas

As police tried to figure out what happened to Thomas, his mother and father came to Benson to make a personal appeal to local businesses, asking them to put up posters. Ultimately, officers from the town’s police and the State Bureau of Investigations conducted dozens of searches in the Benson area in the months following his disappearance but came up empty.


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