PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Pender County Sheriff’s Office has made two arrests in the death of 23-year-old Christopher Duane Stewart, and investigators are searching for a third suspect.
“Today is a very important step in the long journey to get justice for Christopher Stewart,” District Attorney Ben David said. “By any objective measure, this was an especially heinous, atrocious and cruel murder.”
Myasia Nicole Morange, 18 of Council, and Raymond Lee Brooks, Jr., 33 also of Council, were arrested Tuesday and each charged with first degree murder.
The Pender County Sheriff’s Office said Morange and Brooks were arrested at their home in Bladen County.
Detectives are searching for a third suspect, Brandon Tyrell Chambers, 21, of Willard, NC, who also faces a charge of first degree murder.
Search warrants reveal the three suspects allegedly stole $1,500 from Stewart, along with his phone and keys. The warrants also say the suspects beat Stewart with a 3-ft. long pole.
It’s unclear what led up to Stewart’s death, and how he died.
“Information seems like it’s slow to come out,” Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler said. “It’s to protect the integrity of the case, and that’s what has been done, and that seemed to have paid off.”
Morange and Brooks are charged with first degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a dangerous weapon. Both are being held under no bond at the Pender County Jail.
“It is death penalty eligible under the terms of the statute,” David said. “So what we did at the first appearances this morning, is make sure both defendants are being held without bond.”
Detectives say Morange and Brooks are brother and sister. They think Chambers is an acquaintance.
Following Tuesday’s arrest, Stewart’s family shared the following statement:
“On behalf of our family, we are very grateful for all that have helped share his story, prayed and supported our family during this tragedy. We appreciate all of the love and kind words that have been sent to us. We are so proud of everything he achieved, and all the lives he touched. We will announce service arrangements once they can be made officially.”
Stewart was a UNCW student who was obtaining a degree in criminal justice and forensics psychology. He also served a tour of duty in Afghanistan in the US Army and then continued his military career in the Army Reserve.