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Dismembered remains found scattered in a Texas creek were positively identified Tuesday as those of a missing North Carolina mother of two, WRAL.com reports.
Investigators say they believe 27-year-old Laura Jean Ackerson was killed and dismembered in North Carolina before being transported in ice chests to Texas, where her remains were found in a creek about 60 miles south of Houston.
Grant Ruffin Hayes, 32, and his wife, Amanda Perry Hayes, 39, are accused of killing Ackerson, who was last seen in Raleigh on July 13 and reported missing two days later. The couple was arrested early Monday in Kinston, N.C., and charged with murder. A judge ordered them held without bond during their first court appearance on Tuesday.
Ackerson, who had two children with Hayes, was involved in a custody battle with him before she disappeared, according to the station.
Ackerson 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.
Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Craig Brady said Monday that search crews have recovered 60 percent of remains belonging to Ackerson, a businesswoman.
Her dismembered remains were found on Sunday near Oyster Creek, Texas -- about 100 yards from where Amanda Hayes' sister lives, according to the station.
"The objects, we believe, were floating, and that came up into the lily pads, (which) made it difficult," Mark Thorsen, a member of the Houston Police Department's dive team, told WRAL.com. "It was a football field of lily pads and weeds and stuff like that that we had to go through to try to search."
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."