Remains pulled from a creek near Houston have been positively identified as those of a missing Kinston mother.
Over the weekend, Raleigh detectives were sent to Fort Bend County in Texas after receiving information that a woman's body was found in Oyster Creek.
On Tuesday, authorities identified the body as 27-year-old Laura Jean Ackerson, who was last seen July 13 when she reportedly dropped off her children with their father, 32-year-old Grant Hayes.
On Monday, Raleigh Police arrested Hayes along with his wife, Amanda Perry Hayes, and charged them with first-degree murder in the death of Ackerson.
They are being held at the Wake County Jail without bond. District Court Judge Jacqueline Brewer said the public defender's office would represent each of them unless they decided to hire private attorneys.
A probable cause hearing is scheduled Aug. 16 for each of them.
The arrests were made at 1 a.m. without incident at 1505 Holman Street in Kinston.
Patsy Hayes, the grandmother of Ackerson's two children, said her son, Grant, dated Ackerson. She also said the two were in a custody battle over their two children.
The children, who were in the home at the time of Grant and Amanda Hayes' arrest, were assessed by Child Protective Services personnel and released to the custody of Patsy Hayes.
Chief Deputy Craig Brady with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said Monday that Grant Hayes and Amanda Hayes bought a number of ice chests and a U-haul in North Carolina. He said they believe the two drove Ackerson's dismembered body from North Carolina to Oyster Creek.
Brady said Amanda Hayes' sister lives next to the creek and that’s where detectives found a machete in an out-building next to the house. They believe it was used in the murder of Laura Ackerson.
Mark Gierth, Grant’s friend, said he knew Grant when they were both living in the Virgin Islands in 2009 and 2010. Gierth said Grant was living there with Laura, but they were not getting along so they went their separate ways.
Gierth said he had a Facebook conversation with Grant on July 12 about Grant moving back to the Virgin Islands.
“He said it looks like the only way he’d get joint custody is if he lived in North Carolina. He can’t make any money there doing what he’s doing, so he’s going to let Laura have the kids and he was going to move back to St. Thomas,” Gierth said.
Gierth said Grant was a great musician and a great guy who laughed a lot.
"If he had anything to do with it I would think he would have paid somebody. I just can't see him physically going through something like that. I just don’t see it in his demeanor, his personality, anything. But I guess you never do," said Gierth.
Ackerson's car was found by Raleigh police Wednesday morning near where she and Hayes used to live in Raleigh.
Jason Ackerson, Laura's brother, said Tuesday that his family is trying to find comfort. "My wife and I have found peace in the Word of God," he said. "Especially the Book of Psalms, chapter 140, titled 'This is a Prayer of Deliverance from Evil Men," he said.
Ackerson added, "Thank you for all the help of all the officers here and in Texas and the way that they have handled this case so quickly."
Referring to Grant Hayes, Ackerson said that "[Hayes] wrote all these love songs about my sister. I think he has no clue what love is."
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