Local News

Slain woman's father seeks custody of her children

Posted August 1, 2011 4:11 p.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2011 4:45 p.m. EDT

— 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.