Local News

Slain mom mentioned custody dispute in email to ex-boyfriend

Posted July 27, 2011

— An old boyfriend of a Kinston woman whose remains were found in Texas said Wednesday that the two reconnected over email days before her death and that she had mentioned an ongoing custody battle with the father of her two young sons – ages 3 and 2.

The dismembered body of Laura Jean Ackerson, 27, who was reported missing on July 18, was found Sunday in a creek in Richmond, Texas, about 60 miles south of Houston.

Grant Ruffin Hayes, 32, the father of her children, is charged with murder in the case. His wife, Amanda Perry Hayes, 39, is also charged with murder.

James Harrison said by phone from his home in New York that he and Ackerson, who dated from 2005 to 2008 and ultimately parted on good terms, began exchanging messages on July 11 and that he could tell the custody dispute had taken a toll on her and had caused her a great deal of stress.

Court documents indicate that Grant Hayes had been awarded custody of the children at one point but that each party claimed the other was an unfit parent.

"She was involved in a very long court battle," Harrison said. "Clearly, the relationship had gone sour."

But he didn't want to invade her privacy by pressing her to talk about it too much, he said.

The two last talked via email on July 12, about her visiting him in New York.

Ackerson was last seen alive on July 13, and her car was found parked outside a north Raleigh apartment complex a week later.

Laura Ackerson, missing Kinston woman Ex-boyfriend devastated by Kinston mom's slaying

Harrison said that he learned about her death over the Internet and is devastated.

"The manner in which it happened and the level of gruesome detail that went into Laura's disappearance just killed me," he said.

Investigators with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office in Richmond say they believe Ackerson was killed in Raleigh, dismembered and then transported in ice chests to Texas, where her remains were dumped in a creek about 100 yards from where Amanda Hayes' sister lives.

Raleigh police have declined to comment on the investigation or a possible motive, but family members and other friends said that Grant Hayes' relationship with Ackerson had been volatile.

Harrison said that, after he and Ackerson had broken up, he had thought Grant Hayes seemed to be a good match for her.

"I knew the type of person Laura was looking for, and he seemed to have all those traits and qualities, so I was actually really happy for them," Harrison said.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Grace Fellowship Church, 327 Academy Heights Road in Kinston.

113 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • RM24 Jul 28, 7:29 p.m.

    Not one post since 2:08PM?

  • ashewing Jul 28, 2:08 p.m.

    "If he did that, Patsy HAD to have known something was amiss, because he was leaving town the very day Laura's car was found."

    They arrived in TX on the 18th and left on the 19th. On the 20th when her car was found they were enroute back to NC. I was physically impossible for him to have been at the Mellow Mushroom anyway.

  • buford Jul 28, 1:35 p.m.

    @buford........ uh me! So what exactly does that mean in terms of $900,000.00 bale... they have to come up with $9000.00 for a bondsman? - got2bsaid

    well i only know this from reading the Stephanie Plum novels...lol...but I think the bondsman puts up the $ for you and they charge you interest...if you show up for court, the bondsman gets the $ back from the court and you just have to pay him whatever interest...

  • RM24 Jul 28, 1:26 p.m.

    Grants mother already raised one murderer. We don't need any more murderers! They need to get those kids away from her! We prob will never know how deep her involvement was. However I bet she has already inquired as to how much $$$ she can get for each child if she gets custody?

  • WritNEWlaws Jul 28, 1:26 p.m.

    if they are indeed currently in her custody

    They are in her custody. The other news reported that at first social services stepped in and then they were handed over to GH's parents. Scary

  • got2bsaid Jul 28, 1:24 p.m.

    @buford........ uh me! So what exactly does that mean in terms of $900,000.00 bale... they have to come up with $9000.00 for a bondsman?

  • Nancy Jul 28, 1:24 p.m.

    "Has any media outlet reported what day GH and AH are believed to have driven to TX?"

    They spent one night at her sisters in TX, it was the 18th.

  • MikeTysonsPunchOut Jul 28, 1:14 p.m.

    "She didn't because I have a hunch that she already "knew" what had happened and what the plan was. The Virgin Islnds news reported that GH told a friend that he planned to move back. I still cannot believe that they thought they could do it and get away with it. The NorthWest police district is in walking distance of where they lived. I am amazed and I hope that Laura's brother will get custody before GH mother is able to raise them. She is a piece of work!"

    I think you may be right. She is either guilty of already knowing and withholding that knowledge, OR she is guilty of being too stupid to suspect that Laura Ackerson had been killed by her son. Either one makes her unfit to raise those kids, if they are indeed currently in her custody.

  • buford Jul 28, 1:07 p.m.

    ok, whos' watching the Jason Young breaking news...his parents are bonding him out of jail...

  • WritNEWlaws Jul 28, 12:20 p.m.

    This story is going to keep pestering me until the facts come out.

    She didn't because I have a hunch that she already "knew" what had happened and what the plan was. The Virgin Islnds news reported that GH told a friend that he planned to move back. I still cannot believe that they thought they could do it and get away with it. The NorthWest police district is in walking distance of where they lived. I am amazed and I hope that Laura's brother will get custody before GH mother is able to raise them. She is a piece of work!

More...