James Thomas, 42, was killed in a mysterious road rage case

More questions emerge after car is discovered buried in backyard of Bay Area mansion

The victim, identified as 42-year-old James Thomas, was a former San Jose resident who was in the military and who did odd jobs for wealthy people. He had worked at a gourmet food business and then a company that made artificial marble and quartz.

By the time James Thomas left his Bay Area home in 2015, his wife knew nothing of his whereabouts.

Now, a year before he is to have been killed in an apparent road rage case, officials believe they know why the former Marine Corps vet was killed.

That’s because he had a secret that no one knew about: Two months before Thomas’s mysterious death, he was found dead in the backyard of his Bay Area home, buried in a hole roughly the size of a closet.

Authorities have no leads in the case. A person of interest has not been questioned or charged.

And yet, the man is being hailed as a “hero” by friends who say he was killed in a tragic “misunderstanding in road rage.”

“I’d just like to say that he was one of the nicest, kindest, most gentle people I know and was loved by many,” said a friend who did not want to be identified. “He would do anything for his family and for others. I’m just praying he’s happy where he’s at.”

In another Facebook post, a man who identified himself as a relative of the victim said: “If everyone keeps telling you God works in mysterious ways, then you can only imagine how much more beautiful your life will be. Just be patient, he is definitely not a goner. He is still alive and with his family.” Another friend commented: “They don’t tell you what you need to hear. Just pray for God’s comfort.”

But a family friend who did not want to be identified told KTVU, that is not the case in this case.

Thomas’s family wants an investigation because they believe their loved one was the victim of an accident and not murder.

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