Police and State Bureau of Investigation agents planned to search what they called “selected areas” of town Wednesday after getting new information in the Nov. 25, 2016, disappearance of Christopher Cole Thomas.
Chief Kenneth Edwards said in a statement that police, the SBI, the Johnston County District Attorney’s office “and other local and state agencies” have new information in the case.
Four men have been charged with failure to report a death, but Thomas, 22, has never been found. Police have never disclosed whether they have other evidence to prove he died.
The Thomas case is “an open investigation” and is an almost daily part of investigators’ work days, Edwards said.
Despite the charges about not reporting a death, police have not determined that Thomas died, Edwards said.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to speculate” on Thomas’ fate, the chief added.
Wednesday’s search is focused on the southern part of town, Edwards said.
Edwards characterized it as a “general search” in which police follow leads they have developed to see if that information can move the investigation forward or should be discarded. K-9s are part of the search team, he said, but the work was not expected to include any digging for remains or evidence
Three of the men charged in the case were arrested July 17 based on grand jury indictments. All were charged with not reporting a death and two with obstructing justice.
A fourth man named in an indictment was arrested in Minnesota on July 18 and brought to North Carolina. He was charged with not reporting a death.
Thomas, 22, was last reported to have been seen on Nov. 25, 2016. He was a Florida native who lived in Live Oak and had been working in Minnesota, officials said.
Two of the men charged in the case are from Mount Olive and one is from Dudley.
Two people who had been riding in a car with Thomas en route to Durham said he pulled off Interstate 40 in Benson, stopped the car and got out and ran away in a neighborhood at North Elm Street and East Morgan Street.
The pair reported Thomas missing about 3 a.m.
Police said he had planned to spend Thanksgiving with a co-worker who lives in Durham.