Investigators in Texas say they believe a 27-year-old missing mother was killed and dismembered in North Carolina before being transported in ice chests to Texas where her remains were scattered in a creek.
Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Craig Brady said Monday that search crews have recovered 60 percent of a body believed to be Laura Jean Ackerson, a businesswoman and mother of two who was last seen in Raleigh on July 13, WRAL.com reports.
Grant Ruffin Hayes, 32, and his wife, Amanda Perry Hayes, 39, are accused of killing Ackerson, who was reported missing July 15. The couple was arrested early Monday in Kinston, N.C., and charged with murder. The two are expected to appear before a judge later Tuesday at the Wake County Public Safety Center.
Ackerson, who had two children with Hayes, was involved in a custody battle with him before she disappeared, according to the station.
She was reported missing after she failed to meet Hayes in Raleigh to pick up her two sons. Her white 2006 Ford Focus was later found abandoned in a nearby apartment complex.
Dismembered remains of a woman were found on Sunday near Oyster Creek, Texas, about 60 miles south of Houston.
Authorities are still working to positively identify the remains, but said investigators strongly believe they are Ackerson's, the station reports.
While investigators have yet to determine a motive, Brady suggested Monday that the custody issue might have been a factor in Ackerson's death.
"I don’t know if it was a planned homicide or if tempers flared, but I can’t imagine someone being that cold or just uncaring that, after the murder, they took the steps of dismembering this lady in the manner that they did and just tossing her in a creek," Brady reportedly said. "It’s one of the most gruesome scenes that I’ve seen in 30-something years of law enforcement."