I am passionate about missing persons cases due to a personal family experience of having someone go missing in my family.
Ricky Lane Thomas Jr. is a white male and was just 13 when he went missing. He has sandy dark blond to light brown hair and green or hazel eyes. He stands at 5’8" to 5’9" and weighed 170 pounds. He is classified as endangered missing and has small scars on both of his cheeks.
He was last seen wearing long denim shorts, a black hooded sweatshirt, and black and white high-top tennis shoes. He is missing from Bristow, Indiana.
Ricky was born on December 21, 1983 to Tina and Ricky Thomas Sr. Ricky grew up with his mother and stepfather after she married John Martin. They lived in Bristow, Indiana.
Growing up, Ricky was said to have some behavioral issues, and he and his stepfather had several violent incidents. One altercation between the two required Ricky’s cousin, Daisy Applegate, to take him to the hospital for a head injury.
Ricky had also been expelled from school for threatening his teachers. This led to him being homeschooled by his parents. During these moments when Ricky’s parents couldn’t control him, they sent him to stay with his cousin Daisy for weeks or months at a time in Tell City.
On November 6, 1997, Ricky was seen by his stepfather John in their home around 11:30 am. Ricky had made a call to his cousin Daisy between 1:30 and 2:00 pm that day to confirm his plan of staying at her house for the night. Ricky had $20 to buy them food from the McDonald's in Tell City. He was going to walk the 1 to 1.5 miles to her house after he got off the phone with her.
Ricky left home and was last seen walking along Oak Ridge Road on the way to his cousin's house. Both parents were at work on this day aside from his stepfather, who had come home briefly, possibly on a lunch break.
Later in the evening, Daisy called the family home and talked with Tina. She asked about Ricky because he never showed up at her home that day. Tina said he wasn’t at their home either and decided to wait until the next day to call and report him as missing. She had hoped he would come home later that night with some excuse for not making it to his cousin's house.
Police, family and friends searched the area Ricky had last been seen and found no clues. They did discover that the same day Ricky had gone missing, both of his recently acquired 13-week-old puppies were also gone from the home. His family does not believe he took the puppies with him, however.
They did claim he took two backpacks with him when he left, but they found his wallet with the $20 inside on his dresser. He had also left behind all of his other personal belongings, leading detectives to believe he had not planned on being gone for a very long time, just the one overnight stay with his cousin.
His mother and stepfather don’t believe he ran away on his own, but his cousin claims she knew him better and she thinks he did run away on his own, and that he will eventually come back when he’s an adult.
Because the detectives initially believed he had run away on his own, a full and detailed search of the family home and property was never conducted.
Police now believe foul play was involved and they have at least one suspect on their list, John Martin. Ricky Lane Thomas Sr., Ricky’s biological father, was never a suspect and has since died from a supposed drug overdose in August 2000 at age 39.
John Martin, Ricky’s stepfather, is a suspect in the disappearance of Ricky Thomas. John did not actively participate in the search for Ricky when he went missing, and he also called his employer the next day to inform them he would be taking the day off to meet with his sister. Nobody knows where he was on that day, but it’s reported he never met up with his sister.
John also had issues with the polygraph testing done by the police. Sometimes he would refuse to take the test, other times he would accept. When he would agree to taking the tests, however, he would often walk out. The police can only speculate he would walk out because he knew he was failing the tests.
Later, Tina got a call from a stranger saying they had proof Ricky was still alive, but she needed to travel to a remote spot to get the proof. Tina and the police went to this remote area and found Ricky’s snow globe on the ground. This gave her hope he was still alive out there somewhere.
Unfortunately, shortly after this discovery, John came forward and said he set it up. He had called her and disguised his voice and planted the snow globe to give her a reason to move on.
It’s also unconfirmed but recorded in a news article that John had recently gone to Ferdinand to inquire about insurance policies on his family.
After the snow globe incident and John’s unusual behavior, Tina divorced him and refused to speak to him again.
John Martin has since passed away in 2005, so if he had any answers, they are gone with him.
In November 2015, after following up on several leads and tips, they got one tip claiming Ricky’s body could be in the Newtown Lake in Ferdinand off Ferdinand Road East. Police sent dive teams to the lake, but to this day their findings have never been released to the public.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Ricky Lane Thomas Jr., please call the Indiana State Police Jasper Post at 812-482-1441. You can also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.