Body found in search for missing NC mom, deputies say

North Carolina news
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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT/WNCN) — On Tuesday, the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office said they recovered a body who investigators believe is Kristen A. Bennett of Newport.

Bennett was reported missing by her parents on August 16, 2018, after being missing for two days.

On September 4, 2018, Bennett’s boyfriend Lewis Victor Branche III, also known as Trey Branche, was arrested for her murder, deputies said. The pair had been dating for six years, officials said.

On Tuesday morning, officials received and acted on information that led them to the area of Point Road and Morris Hill Lane in Mill Creek on property owned by Branche’s family, deputies said.

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Kristen Bennett in a photo released by deputies.

Investigators said they dug up the remains of a white female wrapped in a tarp.

Items located on the body were consistent with those reported by her family, according to officials.

Deputies said the body was buried several feet below ground.

The body was transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville for official identification in addition to an autopsy that will be performed this week.

On the same day she was reported missing nearly a year ago, detectives interviewed Branche and searched the couple’s home.

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

On Aug. 23, 2018, the sheriff’s office and the State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant on the home and vehicles operated by Bennett and Branche.

Trey Branche who is charged with murder. WNCT photo

Officials took two cars from the scene of Bennett’s home that she shared with her young son and her boyfriend in the Carteret County town.

Carteret County Sheriff’s Office Detectives said the cars were taken to a garage “where they were examined further for evidence.”

The case remains under investigation.

“The Sheriff’s Office thanks citizens, volunteers, and our other law enforcement partners who have assisted with the efforts to locate Kristen over the past 11 months,” officials said Tuesday.

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