Grant Ruffin Hayes and his wife Amanda Perry Hayes were arrested Monday and charged with the grisly murder of Hayes' ex-girlfriend.
The partial remains of Laura Ackerson, 27, were found in a creek near Richmond, Texas, outside Houston. Police believe Grant Hayes, 32, and Amanda Hayes, 39, murdered Ackerson in Wake County on July 13, then drove her body to Texas where they hacked her to pieces and disposed of her remains in a creek.
Hayes was the father of Ackerson's two sons, Grant, 3, and 1-year-old Gentle. The children were the subjects of a tense custody battle dating back to 2010 when a judge granted Mr. Hayes temporary custody of the boys. Ackerson had the boys on the weekends.
The judge found Ackerson to be an unfit mother because she was unemployed and still lived with Mr. Hayes' parents. She was scheduled to attend a hearing on August 15, at which time she planned to ask for joint custody of her sons.
Friends say they last saw Ackerson on July 13, when she dropped her sons off at their father's home. Her business partner, Chevon Mathes, reported Ackerson missing when she failed to pick the boys up on Friday, July 15, for the weekend.
"She always had her little boys and she seemed like a great mother," Mathes told the News Observer.
The creek where Ackerson's remains were found is about 100 yards from Hayes’ sister’s home, according to Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Craig Brady. A machete and several coolers were recovered from a shed at the home.
Raleigh investigators were still at the scene searching the creek for the rest of Ackerson's body on Monday. High temperatures and hot, murky conditions of the water are hampering the search for Ackerson's remains.
Divers from the Richmond Fire Department scoured Oyster Creek on Sunday from about 4:30 p.m. to dusk, but didn’t find all of the remains. This morning they returned, joined by a dive team from the Houston police department.
It’s slow, hot work. The water in the creek is dark brown with silt, and the divers, clad in heat-trapping wetsuits, can’t see underwater at all so they’re using their hands and sonar devices in the search.