Authorities have expanded their search for a missing Henderson County man into eastern Tennessee, saying that manhunt target Phillip Michael Stroupe II may have gone there before they caught him driving the man's truck Thursday morning.
Thomas A. Bryson, 68, left his home Wednesday morning and has not returned.
Local, county, state and federal officers found Stroupe early Thursday morning after they had chased him in Bryson’s Honda Ridgeline and he had taken off running after they disabled it with spiked sticks across N.C. 80, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office said.
They said they found a handgun on the ground during the foot chase and believe it was Stroupe’s.
There was no sign of Bryson, and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Thursday saying, “Detectives have reason to believe Phillip Michael Stroupe II may have traveled into eastern Tennessee before he was involved in the chase that culminated in his capture and arrest in McDowell County.”
Henderson officials had said they suspected that Bryson had been with Stroupe sometime Wednesday.
“The public in both western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee are urged to continue to provide information that may lead to Thomas Bryson’s location by contacting local law enforcement,” the statement said.
Bryson is about 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds and has gray hair and mustache.
Stroupe was the focus of the manhunt that began last Saturday in the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County, was being held Friday on $100,000 bail in McDowell County pending a court appearance.
Officials say Stroupe lives in Burnsville in Yancey County.
The deputy who took Stroupe into custody charged him 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, Sheriff Dudley Greene said.
When the manhunt began, Stroupe was being sought by Buncombe County authorities on a kidnapping charge, officials said.
He was charged in Buncombe County earlier this year with armed robbery,assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, possession of s stolen vehicle, fleeing from police in a vehicle and misdemeanor larceny, according to court records.
He was charged earlier this year in Yancey County with identity theft and fleeing in a vehicle to elude authorities.
The manhunt began after a Transylvania County deputy saw a car that had been taken during a residential break-in Saturday across the nearby Henderson County line.
That chase ended when Stroupe fled into the forest on a mountain bike that he had stolen at gunpoint during the chase, officials said.