This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

A woman was killed late Friday night in a neighborhood north of downtown Lenoir, and Michael Joseph Whisnant, 36, of Lenoir was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Tammy Lynn Benge was found dead by Lenoir police after they were called to check the welfare of a resident at 810 Wild Cherry Place at 11:49 p.m. Friday, according to a press release from the department. That is a rough house in a small neighborhood off Main Street in north Lenoir.

Police would not release Saturday any details about the incident or the phone call they received.

Carolyn Gibson of Lenoir, who said she has known Benge since she was a teenager, said Benge and Whisnant fought all the time.

“He was her boyfriend, but he was a very mean man and a drug addict,” Gibson said. “He was a very awful person. She was just a little girl. … (Tammy) was just a good girl looking for love in all the wrong places. She went with the flow. She just got caught up in the lifestyle of drugging and stuff. She didn’t deserve to die.”

Whisnant was charged with first-degree murder and was being held with no bond allowed in the Caldwell County detention center. He is scheduled for a first appearance hearing in Caldwell District Court on Monday.

Paul Beaver, who owns the property, said Whisnant’s name was not on the lease for 810 Wild Cherry Place. He said a woman leased the property, but he would not say who.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact the Lenoir Police Department at 828-757-2100 or Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300.