Warrants: Tommy Bryson died from gunshot wound; Stroupe received help

Phillip Stroupe II in McDowell County court. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Warrants reveal new details about the subject of a five-day manhunt and the killing of a Mills River man.

According to documents, Tommy Bryson, who authorities believe was killed by Phillip Michael Stroupe II, died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Warrants also say Stroupe received help from his father and friends while he was on the run from authorities.

Warrants say that at one point the elder Stroupe was spotted on the Blue Ridge Parkway flashing his car lights and honking his horn.

After Stroupe escaped the forest, documents say one of the Barnardsville-area residents accused of harboring Stroupe admitted to authorities that his family member, Jennifer Hawkins, cooked for Stroupe, let him shower, and then cleaned the shower with bleach.

Documents also say Stroupe told them he shot someone and stole his truck.

The warrants tell a different story than what Hawkins told News 13 in July.

"I don't know why (Stroupe) thought it was OK to show up at my house and would think that I would help him," Hawkins said at the time.

"I'm mindful that it ended in a tragedy, but, I'm thankful that during those few days, I think we avoided a similar incident in the Pisgah National Forest," Sheriff Mahoney said regarding the decision to close the forest and evacuate campers when Stroupe II was on the loose.

Stroupe's father admitted to authorities his son asked him to help move Bryson's body. While in the McDowell County jail, Stroupe provided him directions to Bryson written on his hand and a small piece of paper.

According to warrants, throughout the conversation, Stroupe told his dad where to stand to avoid the jail cameras. At one point, the elder Stroupe asked, "What's your lawyer saying?" To which Stroupe II replied, "She says as long as they don't have him, they don't have nothing, bottom line."

Stroupe II is charged with first-degree murder of Tommy Bryson. He will be tried in Henderson County.

District Attorney Greg Newman says he will seek the death penalty.

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