Father of Cole Thomas hopes arrests will lead to answers

Christopher Cole Thomas (Benson Police)


BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) – The father of a man who went missing in Benson last year released a statement following the arrest of three men in his son’s disappearance.

chris-thomas
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Cole Thomas was last seen in late November in Benson, when 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.

Cole Thomas was 22 when he disappeared.

On Monday, Benson police said three men had been charged in Thomas’ disappearance.

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.

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

None of them are facing murder charges.

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.

On Tuesday, Cole Thomas’ father, Chris, released a statement where he thanked those who “supported us through this nightmare.”

Chris Thomas’ full statement:

On the behalf of my family and I, we would like to make a statement concerning the recent arrest in my son’s case, Cole Thomas.

Today marks 235 days since our son Cole Thomas vanished from our lives, this has been the most devastating thing that has hit our family, ever. We have desperately waited for answers to where Cole is, we pray this will be the start of finding him.

We cannot express our gratitude to all those who have supported us through this nightmare and all who are aiding in bringing those to justice; there are too many to name.

We will continue to seek the truth and will not give up, not give in until Cole Thomas is home again and who ever is responsible for his disappearance or harming him is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Thank you for allowing us to keep our message out there concerning our son Cole Thomas; at a later date we will provide an interview, we have to allow time for the process.

The body of Cole Thomas has not been found.

Valles is listed in a previous search warrant as someone who knows Thomas. On Nov. 25, 2016, Valles told Benson police he was riding in the car with Thomas the night Thomas disappeared, the search warrant said. He told investigators Thomas parked at a Benson intersection, got out of the car, and ran away.

A surveillance camera at a nearby bank recorded images of two men, and Thomas’s parents told police they believed their son was one of them.

Valles spent time in a Florida prison after convictions for grand theft and forgery. He has numerous other arrests, including a dismissed charge for trafficking amphetamines.

DeLeon currently faces charges for marijuana trafficking in Wayne County following a 2015 arrest which investigators said is still a pending case. He has prior convictions in Wayne County for marijuana possession and making false statements to law enforcement.

James’s criminal history also includes drug possession as well as multiple convictions for assaulting women in Wayne County.

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