Cole Thomas Family Releases Statement Following 3 Arrests

The family of a missing 22 year-old Florida man who disappeared in Benson last year released a statement on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after 3 arrests were made in the case.

Cole Thomas was riding with friends along I-40 on November 25, 2016 when they exited and stopped in Benson.  He hasn’t been seen again.

Late Monday, Benson Police aided by the NC SBI and the Wayne and Harnett County Sheriff’s Offices arrested three men, Julian Valles Jr., 34, of Dudley; Anthony Ridell James, 26, of Mt. Olive; and Rudolfo DeLeon, Jr., 27, of Mt. Olive.  All three are charged with concealment of a death.  Valles and James are also charged with obstruction of justice.

Thomas’ family released a statement today saying: “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 whoever is responsible for his disappearance or harming him is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Grand jury indictments against the three suspects were released to the media on Tuesday. They revealed no new information other than Valles “…did obstruct justice by deleting text messages to Rudolfo DeLeon.”  The indictment did not specify if the text messages to DeLeon came from Valles or from Cole Thomas.

Benson Police have not said if Thomas knew the three men.

The indictments indicate authorities believe Thomas is deceased, however his body has reportedly still not been located.

In a press release, Benson Police said no additional information would be released at this time due to the ongoing investigation and pending court cases against the three men.