Update: The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office announced on November 13, 2018 that Thomas Kolding had been found and was safe. Officials thanked the multiple agencies that assisted in the search but did not provide additional details about where Kolding was eventually located.
Thomas Kolding has been missing for nearly two weeks and his family is pleading for information about where he could have ended up. The 15-year-old from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, left home the day before Halloween. He left his cell phone behind but took $1,000 of his own savings. Kolding’s family suspects the teen ran away after an argument about grades.
Kolding was spotted on security cameras at a train station in Camden, New Jersey on Saturday, November 3. Police confirmed that Kolding was in Philadelphia later that day. There have not been any more confirmed sightings of Kolding since that day.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s office repeated their request for help in locating Kolding in a Facebook post over the weekend. In the post, they also stated that Kolding may have been spotted in Ohio, but had not confirmed whether those reports were credible.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Thomas Kolding Appears to be Using Trains as His Primary Mode of Transportation
Thomas Kolding left his house in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, on October 30, 2018. He appears to have ridden his bike to the nearby town of Denville, located about three miles away from Mountain Lakes. According to police, they know Kolding got on a train in Denville.
Officers confirmed that Kolding rode the train to Broad Station in Newark. Newark is located about 25 miles southeast of Denville. His next destination, according to police, was Penn Station in midtown Manhattan. However, the family told the Morristown Daily Record that police have not seen any surveillance video to confirm whether Kolding actually arrived in New York City.
Then on Saturday, November 3, police picked up Kolding’s trail. He was spotted by a security camera at the Walter Rand Train Station in Camden, New Jersey, which is located just across the state border from Philadelphia.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Mountain Lakes Police shared a picture of Kolding from Camden. The teen was wearing an orange and black striped hooded sweatshirt, a camouflage jackets with dark pants, and carrying a blue Adidas backpack. Law enforcement officials were able to confirm that Kolding made it to Philadelphia that day. He was seen on the corner of Race and 5th Streets around 3 p.m. that afternoon.
On Friday, November 9, police in Miami Township, Ohio received reports that Kolding had been spotted in the area. Miami Township is located in southwestern Ohio near Dayton. But police had been unable to confirm whether the sightings were credible.
2. Family: Thomas Kolding Expressed Interest in Traveling to California
Law enforcement officials and the Kolding family have acknowledged that the teen could be anywhere across the country. Thomas Kolding is apparently very comfortable with traveling, even by himself.
His father, Nicolai Kolding, told the Morristown Daily Record that the family has a vacation home in Norway. He said that he and his wife allowed Thomas to fly back to the United States from Norway by himself earlier this year.
Kolding reportedly left behind clues that he was interested in possibly traveling further west. The family says that Kolding’s internet search history shows he had been researching California. According to Nicolai Kolding, Thomas has a cousin, a college student, who lives in Santa Barbara. But that family member has reportedly not spoken to Thomas.
3. Thomas Kolding Left Home With $1,000 & His Backpack, But Left Behind His Phone & a Note; His Father Says They Had Argued About Schoolwork Prior to Thomas’ Disappearance
Thomas Kolding’s disappearance appears to have been somewhat thought out. He had saved about $1,000 cash by doing chores for friends around the neighborhood. He took the cash with him, along with his bike.
Kolding did not take his cellphone. His father said they did find a handwritten note addressed to them, and another message for a friend. Nicolai did not disclose exactly what the message said, but shared that Thomas wrote that he did not want his family to look for him and did not wish to be located.
Nicolai Kolding says he thinks his son was upset over an argument they had about schoolwork. Thomas is a freshman in high school and is in honors classes. Nicolai told the local newspaper, “The argument about his grades may have been the trigger. I was trying to motivate him and get him to live up to his potential. I think he was feeling pressure at school, and I want to believe that some strange part of him needed to get away for a while.”
4. Family: Don’t Treat Thomas Kolding Like a Child
Thomas Kolding is a 15-year-old freshman at Mountain Lakes High School. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Police say he is about 5’3″ tall, and weighs between 100 and 115 pounds. Anyone with information about where he could be are asked to call Mountain Lakes Police at (973) 334-1413.
His family says that if anyone encounters Kolding, they should not equate his small stature with immaturity. Treating Kolding like a child could make him less willing to come home.
Nicolai Kolding described his son on Facebook: “He walks with a purpose – not strangely fast, but just someone who is going somewhere. He doesn’t usually chew gum but his candy vice is Jolly Ranchers. If anyone sees him (especially those unfamiliar to him), think of him and talk to him like a 25 year-old not a 15 year-old. I know that probably seems strange given all that’s going on but my point is that he can be too bright for his own good and really can’t stand being talked down to. Just please tell Thomas that his mom, his dad, his brothers, his friends and extended family, and more people than he can possibly imagine love and admire him. We miss him and want him to come home now.”
5. The Mountain Lakes Community Held a Vigil for Thomas Kolding to Pray for His Safe Return
Community members held a candlelight vigil at Mountain Lakes High School on November 7, as a show of support for the Kolding family and to pray for their son’s safety.
The school principal, Frank Sanchez told NorthJersey.com that the district has made counselors available to students who may be upset about Kolding’s disappearance. Sanchez also said that friends of teen have been encouraged to speak up if they know anything about where Kolding could have gone.
Residents have described Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, as a typically quiet town, and that everyone in the community is aware of and following the Kolding case. The affluent town of about 4,000 people is located in Morris County, about 35 miles west of New York City.