Editor's note: This article was last updated July 16 at 7:43 p.m.

BEAUFORT — Carteret County sheriff’s deputies recovered a body Tuesday which investigators believe is Kristen Ashley Bennett of Newport.

Ms. Bennett, 24, was reported missing by her parents Aug. 16, 2018, after being not being seen for two days. On Sept. 4, 2018, Ms. Bennett’s boyfriend Lewis Victor Branche III, also known as Trey, was arrested and charged with her murder.

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 Mr. Branche’s family, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

Investigators dug up the remains of a white female wrapped in a tarp. Items located on the body were consistent of those reported by her family. The body was buried several feet below the surface.

Officials transported the body to Vidant Health in Greenville for identification in addition to an autopsy that will be performed this week.

This case remains under investigation and no further information will be provided by the sheriff’s office at this time.

In the release, the CCSO thanked residents, volunteers and other law enforcement partners who have assisted with the efforts to locate Ms. Bennett over the past 11 months.

Shortly after Ms. Bennett was reported missing last August, authorities interviewed Mr. Branche and conducted a preliminary search of the home the couple shared with their young son. A week later, the sheriff’s office and State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant of the home and seized two vehicles for further inspection.

Ms. Bennett’s body had still not been recovered when law enforcement announced Sept. 4 they believed Ms. Bennett was murdered and arrested Mr. Branche. They charged him with one open count of murder and one count of concealing/failing to report a death.

If found guilty, he could face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Branche made a brief initial court appearance Sept. 5 and was scheduled to appear again later that month, but his court date was delayed due to Hurricane Florence.

The mid-September storm also derailed the sheriff’s office’s search efforts for Ms. Bennett’s body, which authorities believed Mr. Branche knew the location of. Sheriff Asa Buck said at the time of his arrest Mr. Branche wasn’t cooperating with authorities.

The community has been active in the ongoing search and remembrance of Ms. Bennett.

After she was reported missing, family and friends passed out flyers for local businesses to display, and one Newport restaurant held a fundraiser to help the family hire a private investigator.

After authorities announced Ms. Bennett is presumed dead, community members organized a vigil at Fort Benjamin Park in Newport to remember their daughter, sister and friend.

The community has also organized several searches for Ms. Bennett’s body in various locations in the county since Hurricane Florence, though the sheriff’s office has said they are not affiliated with the community searches.

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(Previous report)

BEAUFORT — Carteret County sheriff’s deputies recovered a body Tuesday which investigators believe is Kristen Ashley Bennett of Newport.

Ms. Bennett, 24, was reported missing by her parents Aug. 16, 2018, after being missing for two days. On Sept. 4, 2018, Ms. Bennett’s boyfriend Lewis Victor Branche III, also known as Trey, was arrested a charged with her murder.

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 Mr. Branche’s family, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

Investigators dug up the remains of a white female wrapped in a tarp. Items located on the body were consistent of those reported by her family. The body was buried several feet below the surface.

Officials transported the body to Vidant Health in Greenville for identification in addition to an autopsy that will be performed this week.

This case remains under investigation and no further information will be provided at this time.

In the release, the CCSO thanked residents, volunteers and other law enforcement partners who have assisted with the efforts to locate Ms. Bennett over the past 11 months.

This is a developing report. 

(2) comments

katmicjus

The add for finding single women at the end of this article was so inappropriate

Core Sounder

so heart breaking to read news like this. Prayers for the family.

Welcome to the discussion.

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