Newport man charged in girlfriend’s disappearance

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On 09/04/2018, Carteret County Deputies arrested Lewis Victor Branche III, also known as Trey Branche, 26, of Hibbs Road, Newport in connection with the disappearance of his girlfriend of six-years Kristen Ashley Bennett.

Kristen Bennett, 24, was reported as a missing person by her mother on Thursday, 08/16/2018, two days after she was last seen with Branche at their residence on Hibbs Road in Newport. On the same day of the missing person report, detectives interviewed Branche and conducted a search of the home. Since then detectives have been investigating countless pieces of information and have interviewed numerous witnesses.

On 08/23/2018 the Sheriff’s Office and the NCSBI executed a
search warrant on the home and vehicles owned and operated by Bennett and Branche. Physical evidence obtained from the search warrant combined with nearby digital evidence and additional physical evidence obtained from a nearby wooded area indicate that Bennett is deceased. Investigators have not yet located Bennett’s body.


Branche is currently being held in the Carteret County Jail with no bond charged with one open count of murder and one count of concealing/failing to report her death. Investigators are working with Bennett’s family and will be continuing the search for Kristen’s body. Branche is no longer cooperating with officials and is scheduled for his first court appearance Wednesday morning. As the investigation continues, no further details can be provided about the case at this time.