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Search warrants show police work that led to fatal hit-and-run arrest

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Maxwell James Theofrastous has been charged with felony hit and run resulting in death, driving on revoked license, operate vehicle with no insurance and expired inspection. (Photo credit: Asheville Police Department)

New warrants in a fatal hit-and-run case in Asheville provide insight into the police work that led to an arrest.

Asheville police say Bradley Barnes died on Sept. 30 after a vehicle struck and killed him near the intersection of South Charlotte Street and Max Street.

Barnes' family members said he’s from Wilson, North Carolina, and was only in Asheville for a few months looking for a job.

According to warrants, when investigators arrived on the scene, there were a few car parts left behind, including a fog lamp trim piece with a part number on it.

A Google search led officers to identify the type of vehicle suspected of hitting Barnes as a 2003-2007 Toyota Highlander. Warrants say additional pieces from the vehicles' body were found at the scene, identifying the color of the vehicle as bluestone metallic.

“We did a search through the DMV all the Toyota Highlanders in the region. Found about 543,” Sgt. Scott Pruett, of Asheville Police Department, said.

A little more digging showed about 88 were in Buncombe County.

One of those was registered to an address less than half a mile from the crash site.

“Just on a whim, the officer, Officer Pigman, got in her car, drove over to that address and located our suspect car sitting on the side of the road,” said Pruett.

Issuing warrants, seizing the SUV and finding the owner, identified as Maxwell Theofrastous, came next.

Warrants say the damage to that vehicle was found to be consistent with the collision under investigation.

“He was very cooperative, initially, remained cooperative and after a, I wouldn't call it a long interview at all by any stretch, you can tell something was weighing on his shoulders and he wanted to get it off, and he did,” Pruett said.

That was Tuesday afternoon.

He was arrested later that day, making his first court appearance the following day.

"I can't brag on these guys enough," Pruett said. "They work really diligently and sticking with this case, like they do with all of their cases. Just really good police work and a little bit of luck."

Theofrastous was arrested on Oct. 2 and charged with felony hit-and-run resulting in death, driving on revoked license, operating a vehicle with no insurance and expired inspection.

Theofrastous remains in jail on an $85,000 bond. His next court date is Oct. 24.

According to an obituary, Barnes’ funeral is scheduled for Oct. 7 in Winston.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bradley’s memory to Maggie Society, 802 Broad St., Wilson, North Carolina 27893.

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