Boyfriend charged with murder of NC woman missing for weeks

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The boyfriend of a missing 24-year-old woman from Carteret County has been charged with murder in her disappearance.

Lewis Victor Branche III, also known as Trey Branche, was arrested Tuesday and charged with killing Kristen Bennett. He has been charged with one open count of murder and one count of failing to report a death.

Branche, 26, and Bennett had been dating for the past six years, the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office said.  

Bennett was reported missing by her mother on Aug. 16, two days after she was last seen with Branche at their residence on Hibbs Road in Newport.

On the same day she was reported missing, detectives interviewed Branche and searched their home.

Since then, detectives have interviewed a number of witnesses and investigated “countless pieces of information.”

On Aug. 23, the sheriff’s office and the State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant on the home and vehicles operated by Bennett and Branche.

The sheriff’s office said physical and digital evidence led them to conclude Bennett is dead, although they are still searching for her body.

Branche is being held in the Carteret County Jail with no bond.

The sheriff’s office said Branche is no longer cooperating with officials.

His first court appearance is Wednesday morning.

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