The Transylvania Times -

Thomas Bryson Found Dead In Arden Field


July 31, 2017

The body of 68-year-old Thomas Bryson, who was reported missing in Henderson County on Wednesday, was discovered in Buncombe County off Glenn Bridge Road on Sunday just before midnight.

Bryson, whose cause of death remains undetermined, went missing in the Mills River area, where investigators were conducting a manhunt for fugitive Phillip Michael Stroupe II, who was caught driving Bryson’s truck, leading law enforcement to suspect Stroupe played a part in Bryson’s disappearance.

A member of the Skyland Fire and Rescue Department found Bryson’s body in a field in Arden, concluding a five-day search.

The McDowell County Sheriff’s Department took Phillip Michael Stroupe II into custody on Thursday.

According to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Stroupe did not speak to Bryson’s disappearance.

According to a report, McDowell County Sheriff Deputy David Jones apprehended Stroupe at about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday near Riverdale Market on U.S. 70 West.

The Transylvania County and Henderson County sheriff offices and multiple other agencies had been searching for Stroupe since Saturday, July 22, when a manhunt began for Stroupe in the Pisgah National Forest.

The McDowell County Sheriff’s Department had been notified of a sighting of Stroupe in Bryson’s silver Honda Ridgeline truck in Yancey County.

Stroupe was traveling on N.C. 80 toward McDowell County after escaping officers in Yancey County.

“The Sheriff’s Office and Marion police got in a position to intercept the vehicle,” said McDowell County Sheriff Dudley Greene. “They used stop sticks, which were effective.”

Stop sticks are flat, spiked sticks used by law enforcement that are placed in the road to deflate tires.

Before the truck came to a stop, Stroupe drove another mile on U.S. 70 West, then escaped through the window and ran into a field.

When Jones and other officers caught him, Greene said Stroupe was found to be in possession of methamphetamine, and a handgun was found in the field where he fled.

Stroupe has been charged with possession of methamphetamine, fleeing to elude arrest, failure to stop for a steady red light, reckless driving to endanger, resisting a public officer and possession of a firearm by a felon.

He was placed in the McDowell County Jail under a $100,000 bond.

Since the discovery of Bryson’s body, Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald said it is possible Stroupe will now be facing murder charges in addition to other charges in Buncombe, Transylvania, Henderson, Yancey and McDowell counties.

On Saturday, 40-year-old Jennifer Elaine Hawkins, of Barnardsville, 45-year-old Frederick Aurther Badgero, of Nebo, and 23-year-old Larry Jay Hawkins III were arrested and charged with felony harboring escapee Phillip Michael Stroupe II.

Stroupe’s father, 65-year-old Phillip Stroupe Sr of Burnsville, has also been arrested and charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree kidnapping in Henderson County.

He has been placed in the Henderson County jail under a $250,000 bond, and will appear in District Court in today.


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