Details of Disappearance Ricky's stepfather, John Martin, saw him at the family's residence in Bristow, Indiana at approximately 11:30 a.m. on November 6, 1997. Ricky called his cousin, Daisy Applegate, between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. and told her he planned to walk to her home, which was about one mile to one and a half miles from his house.
Ricky intended to stay overnight at Applegate's home. He was last seen walking along Oak Ridge Road in Bristow shortly after speaking on the phone. He never arrived at his cousin's residence and has not been seen again.
Ricky and Applegate were supposed to go to Tell City, Indiana together on the day he disappeared; his call to her was to confirm their plans. He told her he had $20 and wanted to visit a McDonald's restaurant in Tell City. Applegate called Ricky's home later that evening to tell his mother, Tina Martin, and stepfather that he had never arrived, but Tina did not notify police until the next day.
Ricky had taken two backpacks and his wallet with him before leaving his home. All of his other personal belongings remained in his room. The money he told Applegate he had was left in his wallet on his dresser. Ricky's two thirteen-week old puppies were missing, however. His loved ones say it is unlikely that he would have taken the puppies with him to his cousin's home.
Tina and John told authorities that they did not believe Ricky ran away from their residence. He had serious behavior problems and disciplinary problems at school prior to his disappearance and had recently been expelled for threatening his teachers.
His parents were supposed to be homeschooling him, but both of them were at work at the time of his disappearance. Tina and John both took polygraph tests in connection with Ricky's case, but the results have not been released.
There have been no arrests in Ricky's case, but his stepfather has been named as a possible suspect in his disappearance. Ricky frequently lived with Applegate for months at a time when John and Tina said they could not control him.
After Ricky vanished, an anonymous caller told Tina Martin to go to a remote location where she would find proof that he was still alive. Tina went to the directed spot and found Ricky's snow globe. John later admitted to planting the globe there, disguising his voice, and making the call to Tina. John did not participate in the search for Ricky. He and Tina are now divorced.
Applegate stated that she believed Ricky left of his own accord and would return home when he was grown, but police believe he met with foul play.
Ricky's father, Ricky Lane Thomas Sr., died in his Evansville, Indiana home in August 2000. Foul play is not suspected in Ricky Sr.'s death and it is not believed to be connected to his son's disappearance. He was not named as a suspect in his son's case.
Ricky's case remains unsolved.
- Indiana State Police
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated June 22, 2010; age-progression updated.