Charges dropped against men accused in 2016 disappearance of Cole Thomas

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- Charges have been dropped against four men implicated in the disappearance of Cole Thomas, a man driving home to Florida for Thanksgiving in 2016.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle explained the court's decision.

"The investigation into the death of Cole Thomas is ongoing," Doyle said. "The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation continues to follow up on all new information. After a thorough review of the case as it stands today, I made the decision to dismiss the current charges in order to avoid compromising any potential future homicide prosecutions."

Authorities said investigators were told that Thomas and two friends were driving home to Florida for Thanksgiving when he suddenly stopped his car and jumped out in Johnston County - vanishing in Benson. Thomas had texted his father the day before his strange disappearance.

Thomas was reported missing in November 2016. Jeremy Carpenter, Anthony James, Rudolfo DeLeon Jr. and Julian Valles Jr. were all arrested in July 2017. The men were charged with felony concealment of death and felony obstruction of justice.

The bonds for Jeremy Carpenter and Anthony James were reduced in March 2018. Now none of them face any criminal charges.

Thomas' body hasn't been found. His family previously traveled to North Carolina to help with the search effort.

According to warrants, Carpenter and Valles were sitting in the rear passenger seat of the car Thomas was driving, when Thomas parked the car and ran off with the keys at the intersection of E. Morgan and N. Elm streets.

Search warrants also revealed investigators combed through Thomas' Facebook Page and traced what they thought might be activity on his email account being used in New Jersey at an educational testing service after his death.
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