N.C. couple appear in court in woman's death


by Associated Press


Posted on July 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM

RALEIGH, N.C.  -- A man and wife will be held without bond on murder charges in the death and dismemberment of the man's ex-girlfriend, a judge ruled Tuesday as the remains of the victim were identified.

Grant Hayes, 32, and Amanda Hayes, 39, of Raleigh are charged in the death of Laura Jean Ackerson, 27, of Kinston, who was the mother of Grant Hayes' children.

In addition to ordering that they be held without bond, District Court Judge Jacqueline Brewer said the public defender's office would represent each of them unless they hire private attorneys.

Grant Hayes, a musician who used the stage name Grant Haze, fathered Ackerman's two sons, 3-year-old Grant Haze and 1-year-old Gentle Haze. He had been scheduled to appear in family court next month because he and Ackerson had been involved in a custody dispute for more than a year.

Parts of Ackerson's body were found in a creek in Fort Bend County in Texas and were positively identified Tuesday, sheriff's office spokesman Bob Haenel said.

Divers didn't find any more remains Tuesday and have finished searching the creek where they found her torso, a portion of her leg and her head, Haenel said. Her hands and feet haven't been found.

The divers "feel like they've done as much as they possibly can," he said. "They've covered a lot of ground."

He wasn't sure whether searches are planned for the remaining body parts.

Investigators also found two ice chests near the home of Amanda Hayes' sister, who lives in Richmond, located southwest of Houston and not far from the creek where the remains were found. The two ice chests appeared to have been cleaned, Haenel said. Three other ice chests were found with the two suspects in North Carolina.

A machete that was also found near the home does not appear to have been used to cut up the body, he said.

Investigators also found a small boat that's believed to have been used to dump the remains, Haenel said. It was not immediately known who owns the boat.

Haenel said investigators believe the two suspects rented a U-Haul truck that was used to transport the body about 1,000 miles and across several states from North Carolina to Texas. The truck was recovered in the Houston suburb of Katy, located about 20 miles from where the remains were found.

Jason Ackerson, the victim's brother, attended the first appearance hearing Tuesday but declined to comment.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled Aug. 16 for both Grant and Amanda Hayes. Authorities believe Ackerson was killed in Wake County on July 13, the same day she dropped off her two children with Grant Hayes. Kinston police say a business partner reported her missing July 18, and her car was found July 20 in Raleigh.