Court appearances for 4 charged in death of Cole Thomas pushed back until Wednesday

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — The four men charged in connection with the death of Cole Thomas will now be appearing in court on Wednesday at the earliest. The four suspects were scheduled to appear in court Monday morning, but their court date has been pushed back.


SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Four people charged in connection with the death of Cole Thomas, the man who disappeared in Johnston County in November 2016, are expected in court Monday.

Thomas vanished the night of Nov. 25, 2016 in Benson and his body has yet to be found.

Thomas’ father, Chris Thomas, told CBS North Carolina in July that the four arrests are a relief but their family’s nightmare isn’t over yet.


“It’s been real emotional. It was kind of a relief to see it,” he said of the four recent arrests in the case. “It’s been a nightmare with no information really as to when they were going to be in custody.”

Julian Valles Jr., 34, of Dudley, Anthony Ridell James Jr., 26, of Mt. Olive, and Rudolfo DeLeon Jr., 27, of Mt. Olive, were arrested and charged on July 17 in connection with Cole Thomas’ disappearance.

They 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 in connection with Cole Thomas’ disappearance.

Jeremy Brian Carpenter, 42, of Taylor Falls, Minnesota, was arrested July 18 in Minnesota in connection to the case.


Carpenter was held in Minnesota, pending the extradition process, and transferred to North Carolina for a court hearing on charges of felony conceal/fail to report a death and four counts of felony obstruction of justice, Benson police said on July 25.

In late November, 2016, two men — Carpenter and Valles — told police that Thomas was driving the car they were riding in on Nov. 25, 2016, when he parked in a Benson intersection and ran from the car, taking the keys with him.

It’s still not entirely clear what evidence led police to the four men.

The four men are expected to be in a Johnston County courtroom Monday morning. It’s unclear how much, if any, new information will be released in the case during the four appearances.

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