"He may have hid it for years, but he was evil. His friends say he was a nice guy, but to do what he did, he has to be evil," Ackerson's brother-in-law, Mike Anderson, told WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday.
Grant Hayes, 32, the father of Ackerson's 2- and 3-year-old sons, and his wife, Amanda Hayes, 39, were arrested Monday and charged with murder. They are being held in the Wake County jail without bond.
Ackerson disappeared two weeks ago, and her car was later found in the parking lot of a Raleigh apartment complex.
Raleigh police investigating her disappearance ultimately recovered her remains after learning that the Hayeses traveled to Richmond last week to visit Amanda Hayes' sister, who lives about 100 yards from Oyster Creek.
Texas investigators say Ackerson was killed in North Carolina, dismembered and transported in several ice chests in a U-Haul to Richmond.
"People just can't really grasp the concept of what he did, how they did it," Anderson said. "They can't really get their head around the fact that somebody would do this – to kill somebody, then take them that far to another state with their children in the car. It's just really hard for everybody."
Raleigh police haven't commented on a possible motive but others who knew Ackerson say she was involved in an ongoing custody dispute over her two sons and that the relationship between her and Hayes was volatile.
Anderson said that he believes the children, believed to be with Grant Hayes' family, would be better off with Ackerson's family.
Meanwhile Thursday, Raleigh police detectives were making arrangements to have evidence in the case shipped from Richmond to Raleigh, said Bob Haenel, a spokesman for the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office.
He said investigators have also made arrangements with the Galveston County Medical Examiner to conduct the autopsy on Ackerson’s remains.
It's unclear, he said, when those remains would be turned over to her family.
Grant Hayes, a local musician, recently married Amanda Hayes, Anderson said. The two have a 3-month-old child together.
"It's really hard to imagine that somebody who was just married and has a career that's taking off would jeopardize it by doing something like this," Anderson said.
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