Local News

Slain woman's father seeks custody of her children

Posted August 1, 2011

— The father of a Kinston woman whose remains were found last week in a south Texas creek said Monday that he has filed for custody of his two grandsons.

Laura Jean Ackerson's two sons are now in Kinston in the care of Patsy Hayes, the mother of the man accused of killing and dismembering Ackerson.

Grant Ruffin Hayes, 32, and his wife, Amanda Perry Hayes, 39, are charged with murder in Ackerson's death and are being held without bond in the Wake County jail.

"It is about these three children," Rodger Ackerson said, referring to his two grandsons and the child of Grant and Amanda Hayes. "They need to be protected. They need to be taken care of. They need to be nurtured. It has to be devastating for them."

Laura Ackerson, 27, was last seen July 13, and her car was found July 20 at a northwest Raleigh apartment complex. The complex is less than a quarter-mile from Grant and Amanda Hayes' apartment.

A dive team for the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office in Richmond, Texas, found remains on July 24 scattered in Oyster Creek, about 60 miles south of Houston. Investigators later identified the remains as those of Laura Ackerson.

Investigators said they believe she was slain in North Carolina before her killers hauled her dismembered body in coolers to Texas for disposal.

Amanda Hayes' sister lives about 100 yards from Oyster Creek, and Texas authorities said that Grant and Amanda Hayes arrived in Richmond on July 18 – the same day that Laura Ackerson's business partner reported her missing.

Raleigh police have not commented on a possible motive for Laura Ackerson's death, but family members and friends have said that she and Grant Hayes were involved in a custody battle over their two young sons and that their relationship had been "volatile."

The couple had an Aug. 15 custody hearing in court, Rodger Ackerson said in a telephone interview from his Michigan home.

"She would have never left those two boys," he said of his daughter.

50 Comments

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  • concerned11 Aug 10, 10:48 a.m.

    Laura absolutely didn't deserve this. Everybody agrees that the situation is very sad, especially for the three children left behind. The best thing for these children would be to get out of Kinston and grow up in a young family that loves them and is able to provide a stable enviornment. The sad thing is that because Grant "left the kids in a safe enviornment" DSS won't remove them, and by safe enviornment they mean clothed, fed and have their own beds. Maybe all grandparents involved will realize that the best thing for the kids would be to let a young family raise them as their own. Everybody seems to have forgotten what Laura would have wanted for her children, and neither of the current options would have made her happy. Please pray for the safety of these children, wisdom for those making decisions about their placement, and that both sides of the family would set aside their emotions and really put the best interest of the children first and formost.

  • cjspeaks Aug 5, 3:11 p.m.

    "It is about these three children," Rodger Ackerson said, referring to his two grandsons and the child of Grant and Amanda Hayes. "They need to be protected. They need to be taken care of. They need to be nurtured. It has to be devastating for them."
    Who protected Laura? Where were you Rodger when she needed protection the most?

  • monami Aug 2, 4:02 p.m.

    Who gave support to Laura while she was alive? Does anyone exist who was actually close to her? There seems to be a huge void of people who truly cared about Laura or even knew anything about her current life, although the reasons for this seem to be a mystery. Relatives and “friends” coming forward now to argue about the children should be considered cautiously. Whether Laura’s father is fit or not, at least he cares enough about the fate of the children to take a stand for them. I hope the courts conduct serious due diligence on potential custodians. It is very possible these children would be better off with adoptive parents. The orphaning of 3 young children makes this already gruesomely heinous crime even more (if possible) egregious.

  • RM24 Aug 2, 3:39 p.m.

    I believe Laura's family should have frequent visitation and have the opportunity to let the children get to know them but the children don't need to be jerked out a familiar situation.
    carolinaprincess62

    And if grandma Hayes gets tired of them wanting to visit she can just kill them like her son did Laura? She lied to keep the kids from their mother! She def does NOT need them.

  • carolinaprincess62 Aug 2, 11:34 a.m.

    "The grandfather should have the children. Its all he has left from his daughter. Meanwhile, I pray the courts give the murderers life in prison with no parole, ever."
    Wildcat

    Rodger doesn't need the kids. He doesn't know them. Hardly any of the family know the children. He thinks if he gets them, he will get whatever they have coming to them financially. They will get SS income and there are "Fundraisers" being held for them. He "lost" his daughter long before this.

  • Jamerson Aug 2, 11:20 a.m.

    Join the facebook page of "Family and Friends of Laura Ackerson"

  • uropinionmatters Aug 2, 10:50 a.m.

    I pray wherever the children end up it is with people who will love and care for them and provide the support they are going to need in the future with such tragedy in their young lives. Keep these children in your prayers please.

  • wildcat Aug 2, 10:30 a.m.

    The grandfather should have the children. Its all he has left from his daughter. Meanwhile, I pray the courts give the murderers life in prison with no parole, ever.

  • ma54321 Aug 2, 9:28 a.m.

    Listen to carolinaprincess62... you all who want him to get custody... be careful what you wish for...

  • carolinaprincess62 Aug 2, 9:05 a.m.

    Before you get on the "Rodger Ackerson" bandwagon, you may want to check out what the family of Laura Ackerson has to say about him. There's a facebook page called the "Family and Friends of Laura Ackerson". You can read the posts. The closest family members say he is the LAST person that needs to raise those children. They are also in touch with DSS and there's more information that may make you think a little differently about Grant Hayes' mother. Those children know her and don't really know their grandfather at all. It would be wrong to pick them up out of a loving home they know and put them where someone just wants them for their own financial gain. I believe Laura's family should have frequent visitation and have the opportunity to let the children get to know them but the children don't need to be jerked out a familiar situation.

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