Details of Disappearance
Thomas was last seen walking with his cousins and other family members on a trail in Arroyo Cinco Canyon in Altadena, California on March 23, 1957. He told his relatives he was running ahead to the car, and when his loved ones got there later, he was not there. An extensive search produced no clues as to his whereabouts.
A week after Thomas disappeared, a letter was mailed to his home which stated he was alive and well and being cared for by an unidentified man. Another letter sent to a newspaper stated that Thomas was living in Oklahoma. It is unknown whether either communication was authentic; neither one lead to Thomas's whereabouts.
Authorities believe Mack Ray Edwards was responsible for Thomas's disappearance. In 1970, Edwards pleaded guilty to killing three California children and sentenced to death at his own request. He confessed to killing Brenda Howell
, Donald Baker
and Roger Madison
as well, and authorities believe he was also most likely responsible for the disappearances of Bruce Kremen
, Ramona Price
and Karen Tompkins
Edwards lead authorities to a site where he said he had buried some of his victims, but no evidence was located. He died by suicide on death row in 1971. A photograph of Edwards is posted with this case summary. His alleged victims ranged in age from seven to sixteen years old.
Thomas's case was reopened in 2007 as authorities renewed the search for the bodies of Edwards's victims. He was employed as a heavy equipment operator in the 1950s and 1960s, and helped construct many highways across the state of California. Investigators believe he may have buried the children's remains under the highways.