3 men charged in Cole Thomas case appear in court, 1 has bond reduced

Rudolfo DeLeon, Jeremy Carpenter and Anthony James Jr. (Lauren Haviland/CBS North Carolina)

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – Three men arrested in the disappearance of Cole Thomas appeared before a judge Wednesday as part of a bond hearing.


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

Julian Valles Jr, 34, of Dudley, Anthony Ridell James Jr. 26, of Mt. Olive, and Rudolfo DeLeon Jr, 27, of Mount Olive, are charged with 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 also arrested in connection to the case.

Valles was given a $750,000 secured bond, DeLeon was being held under a $1 million secured bond and James under a $200,000 secured bond.

DeLeon, Carpenter and James appeared in court Wednesday morning.

Gwyn Herrrington, Thomas’ grandmother, was one of many family members that travel several hours for each court appearance.

Teresa Cruce, Thomas’ cousin, traveled from Florida.

“We drive nine hours from Perry, Florida,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking. It hurts, but we want to know where Cole’s at. We have all the questions that we need answers to.”

The judge reduced DeLeon’s bond to $500,000. He has to surrender his passport, must stay in North Carolina, and can’t contact co-defendants or their families.

James’ bond was kept at $200,000. Both the defense and state said they are concerned for his safety.

Carpenter’s case was rescheduled for early March. His attorney said he needed more time.



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