Phillip Michael Stroupe II, the man who eluded authorities for six days after a manhunt began in the Pisgah National Forest, was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the death of the man whose truck he was driving when he was captured.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office filed the murder charge, and investigators in Henderson and several other area counties filed multiple other charges stemming from the case that began with a vehicle chase in Transylvania County on July 22 and ended with Stroupe’s capture after a vehicle and foot chase in McDowell County.
Stroupe is accused of killing Thomas A. Bryson, a 68-year-old man who disappeared July 25 and whom Stroupe was suspected then of kidnapping.
Authorities in Buncombe County found Bryson’s body over the weekend. It was Bryson’s truck that Stroupe was driving during a chase in McDowell County before his capture.
In addition to the murder charge, Henderson authorities have accused Stroupe of first-degree kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle.
Also Monday, Henderson County investigators issued a plea for businesses in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Dandridge, Tenn., and on routes between those communities to review their security-camera recordings for last Wednesday, July 26.
Investigators are hoping to find pictures of Bryson’s 2007 Honda Ridgeline or of Stroupe in the hours between 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., they said.
Authorities have been trying to put together a history of where Stroupe was during the time they were looking for him.
After Stroupe was arrested in McDowell County, authorities there charged him with gun possession by a felon, methamphetamine possession, felony fleeing to elude police, reckless driving and resisting arrest.
Transylvania County, where the manhunt began after Stroupe fled into the national forest on a mountain bike allegedly stolen from a rider on a forest road, charged Stroupe with robbery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of gun possession by a felon carrying a concealed weapon, fleeing to elude police and reckless driving.
Buncombe County charged Stroupe with possessing a stolen vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon on a government official.
Henderson County arrested Stroupe’s father on a charge of accessory after the fact in a kidnapping.
Buncombe County charged three people with harboring a fugitive overnight, and Monday they added charges of being accessories after a kidnapping.
Officials have not disclosed how Bryson died or whether they know when he was killed.
Stroupe has multiple court dates over the next two weeks in the counties where he is accused.