The man that was the focus of a week-long manhunt after allegedly going on a crime spree through five counties now faces 15 felonies, including a charge of first-degree murder.
Phillip Michael Stroupe II was arrested late last week after a chase in McDowell County. He was suspected of kidnapping 68-year-old Thomas Bryson in Transylvania County last Tuesday and stealing his truck.
As authorities hunted for Stroupe last week, they also had hopes of finding Bryson alive. Sadly, that was not the outcome they got.
"It's just tragic what happened," said Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald.
Bryson's body was found in a cornfield just off of Glen Bridge Road SE in Buncombe County. The spot was not one that had been searched and might not have been, said the sheriff. The man who found it was looking on his own and came across it.
"He believes it was divine intervention, and I do too," said McDonald.
Investigators believe Bryson was killed shortly after he was robbed of his truck. The site where the body was found is about 25 minutes from the abduction location.
Stroupe was charged with first-degree murder Monday afternoon and brought to Henderson County. District Attorney Greg Newman says he believes the facts of the case justify the maximum punishment if Stroupe is convicted.
"It is my intention to seek the death penalty," he said.
A probable cause hearing was set for August 21, but Newman says a Grand Jury will be assembled on that day and he will seek indictments.
In addition to Stroupe, three others, including his father, have been charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. The three are believed to have helped Stroupe as he tried to avoid capture last week.
The crime spree happened not long after Stroupe was released on bond, said the DA. In that case, Stroupe had been charged with armed robbery.