Local News

Missing Teen Found; Harnett Man Charged With Kidnapping, Sexual Offenses

Posted November 23, 2004 4:27 a.m. EST

— A Cameron man has been charged with kidnapping and raping a Harnett County teenager who was reported missing eight days ago.

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office charged Carl Wesley Branson, 47, with one count of first-degree kidnapping, one count of second-degree rape and 11 counts of second-degree sexual offense.

Branson was arrested at about 8:30 p.m. Monday after a tip led deputies to his home -- a quarter mile away from where the teenager lived.

Henry Lee lives across the street from the mobile home where the teenager was found. He was leaving a note for his neighbor, Carl Branson, when the girl opened the door.

"She just said 'Help, someone help me'," Lee said. "She said 'I'm the girl everyone's been looking for,' and I said 'I know'."

Lee called 911, his wife ran to find the girl's family who live in the same neighborhood.

Officials said Branson has prior sex offenses in Pennsylvania, but never registered in North Carolina.

Earlier in the day, a state Highway Patrol helicopter helped search a heavily wooded area in the western part of the county for the 17-year-old.

Authorities said the teenager left her home on Nov. 14 because she was upset. Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said that within 10 minutes, Branson approached her, got her into his car and took her to his home, where she stayed for more than a week.

Branson is being held in the Harnett County Jail on $500,000 bond.

Rollins said it does not appear that the teenager knew Branson.