A new twist in the missing person’s case of 22 year-old Cole Thomas who disappeared last November 25th in the Town of Benson.
A search warrant that had previously been sealed by a court judge for 90 days shows someone used Thomas’ email account to register to take a standardized text at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on December 8th, 13 days after he was last seen alive.
The email account was later used to register for a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) on December 30th at a corporate campus of Educational Testing Service (ETS) that administered the test. The two sites are about 10 miles apart.
Last November, Thomas and two friends were reportedly riding on I-40 when they exited and drive into the Town of Benson. The two friends said Thomas jumped and ran from the car. He hasn’t been seen since. A grainy video surveillance camera image from early that morning shows Cole on foot in Downtown Benson. That was the last known sighting.
According to the February search warrant only recently unsealed, a location history of his cell phone confirmed he was in Benson when he disappeared in November.
On Thursday, Benson Police Chief Kenneth Edwards downplayed the email activity. “Apparently a testing center in New Jersey, specializing in GRE testing using a random pool of email addresses, linked to Cole’s email account. Captain (Greg) Percy and a Special Agent with the SBI located this activity. The follow up resulted in the conclusion that however unlikely, it was most probably a simple coincidence that the email account showed activity post disappearance.”
In the application for the February search warrant, law enforcement officials stated they were investigating a possible murder.
Police also confirmed for the first time today, a K-9 search for Cole on November 30th – five days after he disappeared – alerted on a large commercial trash dumpster used during the renovation of a Methodist church in Benson. On December 1st, heavy equipment was used to empty the contents from the dumpster. Food, trash and household garage were found in the dumpster but there was no evidence or clues uncovered to help solve Cole’s disappearance.
Chief Edwards said investigators have spoken to officials at three area landfills, including the Johnston County Landfill near Smithfield, but they yielded no clues.
“The real challenge is the hundreds of hypothetical, fact-less theories that have and continue to emerge on social media and otherwise, which require the very same attention and follow up as the more plausible and probable scenarios,” Chief Edwards said Thursday. “My prayers remain with this family, and the officers making many sacrifices in the pursuit of justice for Cole.”
A reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Cole Thomas is now at $15,000. If you have any information that could help, contact Benson Police at 919-894-2091.