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Charges dropped against men accused in Cole Thomas' disappearance

Posted at 10:09 AM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 17:19:59-04

LIVE OAK, Fla. (WTXL) — Charges have been dropped against four men accused in the disappearance of Cole Thomas, a Suwannee County man who went missing while driving home to Florida for Thanksgiving in 2016.

According to WTVD, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said the investigation into Thomas' death is ongoing but she chose to dismiss the charges to "avoid compromising any potential future homicide prosecutions."

Jeremy Brian Carpenter, Julian Valles, Jr., Rudolph DeLeon, Jr., and Anthony Ridell James, Jr., were all arrested in July 2017. The bonds for Carpenter and James were reduced in March 2018. Now, none of them are facing any criminal charges.

Cole Thomas was last seen on November 25, 2016 in Benson, North Carolina, according to local police. Police say Thomas was driving with two acquaintances when he stopped the car at an intersection and suddenly took off.

His body still hasn't been found.

Thomas' family posted a message on Facebook, in part saying, "We are very disappointed in where we stand in Cole‘s case today. It has been a long journey that we will continue to live through every day."

Cole's mom says it's been a long journey that they continue to live with.

The family still calls the case a homicide. They say they're not happy with the decision, and believes the state backed off on the case, despite new evidence and points the finger to Rudy DeLeon, claiming he admitted to kidnapping Thomas.

But again, all of those accusations have been dismissed by the court.

We did reach out to the district attorney's office in North Carolina. They have not gotten back to us.

They told a television station there the move was made to avoid compromising any potential future prosecutions.