Memorial held for murdered NC woman

KINSTON, NC (WTVD-TV ABC11) Laura Ackerson's dismembered remains were found last weekend in Fort Bend County, Texas.

Nearly a hundred people gathered at Grace Fellowship Church in Kinston to remember Ackerson.

It was an emotional memorial service that paid tribute to a woman friends say was grounded in faith and family.

The community is in mourning, coping with her loss, and the future of the two sons she leaves behind.

"It's just been a shock to everyone - she was just a sweet girl, who didn't deserve what happened to her," Friend Leslie Katkayeck said. "You know the church has just been trying to support her family as much as we can, and just want to keep the prayers open for her children."

Ackerson's ex-boyfriend Grant Hayes,32, and his wife,39-year-old Amanda Perry Hayes, are both charged with first-degree murder in the case. Investigators say they believe Ackerson was killed in North Carolina and Hayes and his wife took her body to Texas in ice coolers before dumping it in a creek.

In Kinston, for those we knew Ackerson; it's been a time to grieve, and cope with her murder.

Her memorial service on Saturday was filled with memories and an outpouring of love and support from the community. It's been just in the best of ways overwhelming - overwhelmed with joy that her life has been celebrated and her life that is continuing as we speak with Christ is being celebrated now," Friend Jo Jackson said.

Investigators say Ackerson last saw her children, who lived with their father in Raleigh, on July 13.

The 27-year-old was supposed to pick them up again the following Friday at a meeting spot in Wilson, but Hayes said she never showed up. That's according to Hayes' mother.

A coworker contacted police when Ackerson didn't show up for work the next Monday.

Ackerson and Hayes have been involved in a custody battle over their children for more than a year. Hayes was granted primary custody of the children in 2010.

Grant Hayes fathered Ackerson's two sons. The children are now living with Hayes's family.

But Ackerson's father who lives in Michigan is reportedly working to get custody of the children.

At her memorial service Saturday, friends and family recognized the Kinston woman for her devotion to family and faith and say her memory will forever live on.

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