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Remains of N.C. mom Laura Jean Ackerson identified

Laura Jean Ackerson Missing: Mother vanished in Raleigh, N.C.
Laura Jean Ackerson Personal Photo

(CBS/WRAL) RALEIGH, N.C. - A Raleigh couple was ordered held without bond Tuesday in the death of Kinston, N.C. mother Laura Jean Ackerson, whose remains have been positively identified after being found in a south Texas creek.

Pictures: Ex-boyfriend, his wife charged in N.C. mom's murder

District Judge Jacqueline Brewer appointed public defenders to Grant and Amanda Hayes, Ackerson's ex-boyfriend - who is the father of her two children - along with his wife, and set their next court date on Aug. 16, reports CBS affiliate WRAL.

Ackerson, 27, a businesswoman and mother of two, was last seen July 13, and her business partner reported her missing five days later.

A dive team for the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office in Richmond, Texas, found remains late Sunday scattered in Oyster Creek, about 60 miles south of Houston. Divers and cadaver dogs wrapped up the search Tuesday after three days, reports the station.

"The objects, we believe, were floating, and that came up into the lily pads, (which) made it difficult," said Mark Thorsen, a member of the Houston Police Department's dive team. "It was a football field of lily pads and weeds and stuff like that that we had to go through to try to search."

Investigators on Tuesday positively identified the remains as those of Ackerson. They said they believe she was slain in North Carolina before her killers hauled her dismembered body in coolers to Texas for disposal, the station reports.

Amanda Hayes' sister lives about 100 yards from a wooded area that includes Oyster Creek, and Texas authorities said that Grant and Amanda Hayes arrived in Richmond last Monday.

Investigators took a machete from the house, but Chief Deputy Craig Brady of the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said he doubted that it was connected to the case.

Detectives also seized 124- and 75-quart ice chests from the house, and Brady said it appears Grant Hayes purchased five coolers in North Carolina in the days after Ackerson was reported missing.

Raleigh police have not commented on a possible motive for Ackerson's death, but family members and friends have said that Ackerson and Grant Hayes were involved in a custody battle over their two young sons and that their relationship had been "volatile."

Police said Ackerson's two sons were with family members, but they didn't disclose whether it was Ackerson's family or Grant Hayes' family.

More on Crimesider
July 25, 2011 - Laura Jean Ackerson, missing N.C. mother, believed murdered; ex-boyfriend and his wife charged
July 20, 2011 - Laura Jean Ackerson Missing: Mother vanished from Raleigh, N.C.

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