Editor’s note: This is the first in a five part series looking back at the top five stories in cops and courts; government and civic affairs; education; miscellaneous and offbeat; and events and happenings

Phillip Stroupe II caught in McDowell

A Weaverville man who was the subject of a manhunt across Western N.C. for five days was caught in McDowell and subsequently charged with murder in Henderson County. Between July 22 and July 26, 39-year-old Phillip Michael Stroupe II was wanted on several charges in Yancey, Buncombe and Avery counties. As the pursuit reached McDowell, Stroupe was apprehended by local and state authorities near Riverside Market on U.S. 70 West. As Stroupe awaits local charges, he currently faces murder charges in Henderson County in the disappearance and death of 68-year-old Thomas Bryson, who was reported missing during the manhunt and later found dead.

20 arrested in national drug conspiracy

A year-long probe and five months of raids across multiple counties led to the arrests of 20 suspects in what authorities called a national drug conspiracy. From April 18 to Sept. 13, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office charged 20 individuals in a drug enterprise that stretched between western N.C. and California. The investigation started in late summer 2016 with a probe at the home of 36-year-old Jamie Leonard Tate of Nebo, one of the alleged ringleaders. A raid across McDowell, Burke and Catawba counties yielded 20 pounds of meth and $500,000 in cash. As charges mounted, the final suspect and second alleged ringleader – 35-year-old Dwayne Bullock of Newton – was arrested in National City, Calif.

McDowell assistant principal charged with stealing money

A McDowell High School assistant principal faces felony larceny charges after allegedly taking money from the school on two occasions. On Oct. 30, 41-year-old Nick Shosho of Cedar Drive in Marion was charged by the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office after $564 in school funds had been reported missing from the school. Shosho, who was hired for the 2017-18 school year, was suspended without pay following an investigation. According to a letter from Charter Schools USA, Shosho, while acting as principal of Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary, resigned in June after he was accused of misusing funds at the school prior to his employment in McDowell.

One killed when stolen church van crashes

A Swannanoa man was killed in a motor vehicle collision after leading police on a chase through Marion in a stolen church van. On Sunday, Nov. 26, 39-year-old Timothy Joe Millington of Swannanoa was spotted by authorities driving a church van reported stolen from Iglesias Bautista Monte Sinai Church earlier that day. During a high-speed pursuit with Marion police and county deputies, the vehicle was found overturned around a curb on Greenlee Road; Millington was pronounced dead on the scene as a result of the crash. Further investigation by Marion P.D. revealed that Millington had also stolen a Jeep from Buncombe County, reported the day before the high-speed pursuit.

One sheriff passes, one to step down

A former McDowell County sheriff passed away in October and the acting sheriff announced his plans to retire six weeks later. On Oct. 11, former sheriff Jackie Turner Sr. died at the age of 72. Turner assumed office in 1994 and served until retiring in 2008, tackling issues in the county like meth labs, cleaning up Little Mountain and video gambling in his 14 years. Acting sheriff Dudley Greene announced on Nov. 27 that he would not file for re-election in 2018. In a letter to the McDowell News, Greene, who succeeded Turner as sheriff in 2008, said that he would be retiring, meaning McDowell voters will pick a new sheriff in 2018.

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