“Divine Intervention” lead to finding kidnapped man’s body

HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. — Monday afternoon’s press conference was an update on the case of a 68-year-old man who was kidnapped and killed by a fugitive. The fugitive Phillip Stroupe II was arrested in McDowell County driving the victim’s vehicle.

Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald said a relative of victim Tommy Bryson, with Skyland Fire Rescue, was helping in the search for the body. The man who found Bryson’s body said he was “just driving around trying to figure out what to do with information they were developing,” and he was “out of order” for where they had been looking for Bryson. When the man discovered Bryson’s body in a cornfield in a remote part of Buncombe county, he felt it was “divine intervention.”

McDonald said Phillip Stroupe II is believed to have kidnapped and killed Bryson. Stroupe II “has not at any time been cooperative and provided no help” to investigators who were looking for Bryson. Stroupe’s father was charged with aiding and abetting of a fugitive.

McDonald said he believes Stroupe II acted alone, and that he killed Bryson within about a half hour of encountering him because he wanted Bryson’s truck.

Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman said he will seek the death penalty in the case. He said achieving a death penalty as an outcome isn’t easy, it involves more lawyers and appeals and takes longer, but he feels it is “an appropriate way to pursue the case,” and Bryson’s family supports it.

David Wheeler for NC Senate District 47