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Noah Thomas' parents arraigned via video conference

Noah Thomas' parents arraigned via video conference (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

PULASKI COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Noah Thomas' parents were arraigned in a Wythe County court Friday after being arrested on charges of abuse and neglect of children.  

Ashley White and Paul Thomas were being held at the New River Valley Jail without bond. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office and social services took six-month-old Abigail from the parents' home the day after Noah disappeared.

Paul Thomas is charged with two counts that carry up to five years in jail a piece. Ashley White is charged with one count that carries up to ten years, and another that carries up to five years. Their preliminary hearings are set for August 12 at 1:30 p.m. in Pulaski County Juvenile Domestic Court. 

The judge advised Thomas and White during court that they had the right to object to media presence. White's responded saying, "this is the saddest thing that's ever happened to me and I don't want everyone to enjoy it over their dinner."

Paul Thomas' spoke this objection, "I don't want my life on television."

The judge quickly denied their objections.

Thomas and White will both seek legal counsel. Bond hearings would have to be set up at a later date through counsel. Attorney Jimmy Turk, of Radford, said he consulted with the parents during the week Noah went missing and couple days after he was found, but he does not expect to represent them any further.

According to arrest warrants filed in Pulaski County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Ashley White showed "reckless disregard for human life," and "caused serious injuries." In the report it also said "Incident ultimately led to Noah's death," and "Cause or permit to life or health of child by a willfull act, omission, or refusal to provide necessary care." Court records also indicate White worked at Patty's Kitchen. 

Arrests warrants also stated Paul Thomas "showed reckless disregard for human life," and also said the "incident led to Noah's death." Court documents say Thomas worked at Phoenix Packaging. 

White and Thomas currently face two counts each of abuse and neglect of Noah and Abigail.

According to the Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Fleenor, White and Thomas were scheduled to be arraigned by video Friday. Their cases were scheduled to be heard in the Pulaski County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. However, court officials said Friday their case was moved to Wythe County due to no judges being available. 

During a news conference Thursday, Sheriff Davis elaborated on the search of Noah. He said as time passed, officials believed that Noah could not have survived outside because of the terrain and weather. After the search turned to locate and recovery, Davis said Noah's body was found in a septic tank next to the family's mobile home.

Sheriff Davis said at the news conference, "The investigation and cause of his death and circumstances surrounding it are our priority at this time. I have stated previously that our mission is to thoroughly investigate these circumstances and at the appropriate time when it will not jeopardize our investigation."

Officials said they are still waiting on the autopsy results, which could take several weeks.

Fleenor said Thursday, "We have full confidence however the Virginia Department of Science and Medical Examiner's Office they will certainly perform a thorough analysis and cause of death will be the critical evidence in this case."

Community pays respect at 5-year-old Noah Thomas' funeral

Noah Thomas went missing on Sunday, March 21. His body was found in a septic tank on March 26 just after 1:00 p.m. on his family's property. The 5-year-old was found after an extensive five day search. The discovery came shortly after the sheriff announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to Noah's whereabouts. 

Sheriff: Noah Thomas autopsy conducted, but results take longer

Just days ago on March 30, Sheriff Davis said the autopsy of Noah Thomas was conducted, but test results will take longer to process. In a statement he said it may take several weeks for results from the initial autopsy to be ready for release due to the nature of the testing being done. The sheriff asked for patience as this process was completed.