The boyfriend of a missing Newport woman has been arrested and charged with her death.
Lewis Victor Branche III, 26, also known as Trey, of Hibbs Road in Newport, has been charged with an open count of murder and with concealing/failing to report the death of his girlfriend, Kristen Ashley Bennett, 24, according to a release from the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.
Bennett, who was reported missing on Aug. 16, is believed to be deceased but her body has yet to be recovered, according to the release.
Branche is no longer cooperating with authorities, according to the release. He was scheduled for a first appearance in Carteret County on Wednesday. He is being held in Carteret County Jail without bond.
Bennett was last seen around 2 p.m. on Aug. 14 at 950 Hibbs Road, Newport, the home she shared with Branche. After she was reported missing by her mother on Aug. 16, detectives interviewed Branche and conducted a search of the home, according to the release.
Detectives have interviewed numerous witnesses and examined countless pieces of evidence as part of the investigation, according to the release.
On Aug. 23, the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant of the home, seizing vehicles owned and operated by both Branche and Bennett. Physical evidence obtained from the search, what the sheriff’s office called “digital evidence,” and physical evidence obtained from a nearby wooded area indicate that Bennett is deceased, according to the release.
The investigation is continuing, according to the release. Anyone with any information can call the Carteret County Crime Stoppers at 726-4636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.