Body parts found in Fort Bend Co. confirmed as those of missing mother from NC

July 26, 2011 4:30:58 PM PDT
Eyewitness News has received the official word that the remains found in Oyster Creek are those of 27-year-old Laura Ackerson, a mother of two from North Carolina. The two people accused of killing her -- her ex-boyfriend and his wife -- have now faced a judge. The medical examiner used dental records to confirm that the remains recovered are those of Ackerson. Despite optimism, divers have not found the rest of her.

Investigators say ice chests on display for media were among five filled with the dismembered body of Ackerson, and driven in the back of a U-Haul trailer at least 1,200 miles from North Carolina to Texas. The coolers were found near a home by Oyster Creek, in which the sister of one of the suspects lives.

Divers have scoured more than 75 yards of the creek from the spot where they first found a portion of Ackerson's body on Sunday. Vegetation has slowed the search.

"When you're in the middle of it, it closes in on you," said Houston Police Department diver Mark Thorsen. "It's hard searching for what we're looking for."

Thorsen says that difficulty is amplified by zero visibility in the water.

"Everything is just by feel," he said. "We have a certain search pattern that we use. It's just feel, until we hit whatever we're looking for."

Ackerson, a mother of two, was reported missing earlier this month in North Carolina. Her ex-boyfriend and his wife faced a North Carolina judge on Tuesday afternoon for the first time. Grant and Amanda Hayes are being held without bond on charges of murder.

Detectives tell us Hayes and Ackerson were in the middle of a bitter custody battle. They tracked Grant and Amanda to the home of Amanda's sister, where they discovered the coolers, a suitcase and other evidence.

Among those items, investigators found a machete. They say someone clearly has tried to clean it. They can't tell us if it was in fact used to commit the murder, but what they can say is that based on the evidence so far, it clearly was not used to dismember the victim.

With all of Ackerson not yet recovered, locals fear what they could find.

Neighbor Joe Garza said, "I might not even go fishing down there anymore, just because of something like that."

Now that Ackerson has been identified, the search in the water for the rest of her remains has been called off. Divers tell us they've now done all they could.


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