Body Recovered From Neuse River Not Missing Cole Thomas

Benson Police detectives accompanies Smithfield police investigators on Thursday at the NC Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy on a body pulled from the Neuse River in Smithfield on Tuesday.

While the remains have still not been identified, Benson Police Captain Greg Percy confirmed Friday they are not that of missing Cole Thomas who was last seen in November 2016 in Downtown Benson.

The body was recovered from debris that had lodged against the bridge on US 301 South over the Neuse River.

Smithfield Police Captain R. Sheppard said the preliminary autopsy showed the body was a white male, about 5 foot 3, with a black and red tattoo on the upper right side of the arm. The tattoo was possibly a “Tribal design.”

The medical examiner said the death did not appear to be the result of heavy rains earlier in the week.  Police are reviewing missing persons cases with other agencies but so far don’t have any clue as to the victim’s identity or more specifically how he died.

“This case remains open and active,” Captain Sheppard said.

Anyone with any information about the individual is asked to contact the Smithfield Police Department Tip Line at 919-989-8835. To speak directly with an investigator call 919-934-2121.


  1. Praying for him to find his family and be brought home!
    Lord please help us find Cole!!!
    We will never stop looking for you Cole.
    I promise you that.

  2. I thought that’s was the point of having the body sent for autopsy to determine how he/ or she died. I understand they don’t know who he is,but gosh c’mon… we all know that that’s why we have autopsies done to determine to cause of death.

    • Article said “preliminary autopsy” and depending on COD it’s sometimes impossible to determine if the body has been submerged under water for a considerable length of time

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