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Abduction-Murder Charges Pending for White Supremacist Fugitive

Authorities in North Carolina late Sunday located the body of a man believed kidnapped by a white supremacist in a case now being investigated as an apparent abduction-murder.

The body of Thomas A. Bryson, 68, of Mills River, North Carolina, who had been missing since last Wednesday, was found in a corn field along Glenn Bridge Road, south of Asheville, in Henderson County, authorities announced. An autopsy was planned.

Phillip Michael Stroupe II, who has a Nazi swastika tattoo and apparent past ties to white supremacists, was arrested early Thursday after police used a highway spike  strip to stop a Honda Ridgeline that authorities said was stolen from Bryson when he was abducted. 

Stroupe ran from the disabled, stolen truck, but was arrested in a tomato patch by a McDowell County, North Carolina, sheriff’s deputy.

The suspect, who has an extensive criminal record, has been charged with kidnapping and multiple other charges; a murder charge appears likely following the autopsy of the kidnapping victim.

After the truck was stolen from Bryson, the vehicle was spotted in Gatlinburg and Sevierville, Tennessee, presumably driven by the fugitive, the Charlotte News-Observer reported in today’s editions.

In related developments, the suspect’s father, Phillip Michael Stroupe, of Burnsville, North Carolina, was arrested over the weekend and charged with felony accessory after the fact to first-degree kidnapping, the Henderson County sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Authorities also arrested Jennifer Hawkins, 40, Frederick Badgero Jr., 45, and Larry Hawkins, 44, over the weekend on charges of harboring the fugitive who had been sought since July 22. The three, whose relationships to Stroupe haven’t been disclosed, reportedly claimed Stroupe threatened to kill them if they didn't help him hide from authorities, ABC News reported.

The manhunt for Stroupe II, which closed down popular campgrounds for several days, began after he fled when police attempted to stop his vehicle in the wooded Pisgah National Forest northeast of Asheville. After fleeing, law enforcement officials say the fugitive stole a mountain bike from a man at gunpoint.

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