Escapee who closed down Pisgah Forest charged with murder one

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — Phillip Michael Stroupe II is charged with first-degree murder of Tommy Bryson in Henderson County. District Attorney Greg Newman says he will seek the death penalty. Stroupe II, 38, faces charges in Yancey County and is wanted in Buncombe County for failure to appear in court in regards to a kidnapping charge. In McDowell County Stroupe II was indicted by the grand jury for felon with a firearm, eluding arrest, reckless driving and possession of meth.Phillip Stroupe of Weaverville was released from the Yancey County Detention Center. Shortly afterward he stole a mountain bike at gunpoint and vanished into the woods of Pisgah Forest. Days later he was spotted in the Henderson County area.

According to warrants and court documents, Tommy Bryson, who authorities believe was killed by Phillip Michael Stroupe II, died from a gunshot wound to the head. Stroupe received help from his father and friends while he was on the run from authorities.

At one point, the elder Stroupe was spotted on the Blue Ridge Parkway flashing his car lights and honking his horn. Barnardsville area residents are accused of harboring Stroupe and during that time Stroupe told them he shot someone and stole his truck.

Stroupe’s dad, also facing charges, admitted to authorities his son asked him to help move Bryson’s body during a visit in the McDowell County jail.