Grant and Amanda Hayes
Former St. John residents Grant and Amanda Hayes remain in a Wake County, North Carolina jail awaiting trail for first degree murder.
The two were arrested in July and charged with killing Grant Hayes’ ex-girlfriend, 27-year-old Laura Ackerson, the mother of two of his children. The two had been in a contentious custody battle since 2010, when Grant Hayes was awarded primary custody of the children.
Police officials allege that Grant Hayes, 32, and Amanda Hayes, 39, killed Ackerson in Raleigh, North Carolina before hacking her body into pieces, packing her limbs into ice chests and driving the remains to Texas where they dumped the limbs into a creek near Amanda Hayes’ sister’s house.
The two were indicted in early August with the Wake County grand jury finding that Grant and Amanda Hayes “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did of malice aforethought kill and murder Laura Jean Ackerson,” according to a report by Raleigh ABC affiliate WTVD.
The results of Ackerson’s autopsy were released last week with Dr. Nobby Mambo, chief pathologist with the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office in Texas, determining that the 27-year-old died of a murder of “undetermined means,” according to a report on the North Carolina news website www.enctoday.com.
Mambo could not determine precisely how Ackerson was killed, however, he did find “‘jagged cuts’ consistent with ‘tool markings’ along the skin of Ackerson’s neck, abdomen, lower hip and knee where she was amputated,” according to the report.
The pathologist is conducting further DNA tests on amputated bone fragments and marrow, “including additional cuts noticed on the vertebrae, ribs and clavicle” to analyze for “tool markings,” according to the report on www.enctoday.
Ackerson was reported missing on July 18 when she did not show up for work. She was scheduled to pick up her children from the Hayes’ apartment three days earlier for a visit. North Carolina police allege that is when Grant and Amanda Hayes killed Ackerson in their Raleigh apartment before dismembering her body and packing the limbs into ice chests.
The two, along with Ackerson’s two children, drove the remains from North Carolina to Texas and tossed the limbs into “Oyster Creek from aboard a Jon boat while visiting a relative in Richmond, Texas, a suburb 60 miles south of Houston, July 18 through July 20,” according to www.enctoday.com.
Most of Ackerson’s body was recovered by divers on July 24 and Mambo performed his autopsy on July 25, according to the report.
“Detectives with the Raleigh Police Department seized from the Woodfield Glen apartment occupied by Grant and Amanda Hayes, a storage unit and Ackerson’s car in a series of six searches between July 20 and August 2, DNA samples, plumbing, electronics, linens and financial statements and miscellaneous documents, including papers indicating the Hayeses owned a saw,” according to www.enctoday.com.
Grant Hayes met Amanda Hayes (then Amanda Perry), on St. John a short time after he moved to the island with Ackerson in 2008. Ackerson moved back to North Carolina sometime later and Hayes and Perry soon followed. The two married and had a daughter of their own this past June.
During her time on island, Amanda Hayes worked as the director of the now defunct St. John Artists’ Association and opened an art store in the Lumberyard. After the association dissolved and the art store closed, she worked at several different jobs on island, including at the Beach Bar.
Grant Hayes, a musician who performed under the name Grant Haze, played weekly gigs at Island Blues in Coral Bay before landing a regular gig at the Parrot Club in Cruz Bay.
Ackerson’s brother, Jason Ackerson, claimed that Grant Hayes was “very controlling and very manipulative,” according to WTVD’s report.
“It was hard to contact her without getting in fear of her life,” Ackerson told WTVD. “And we should have taken the treats more seriously. Grant Hayes and his wife are monsters, and I hope that anybody that knows them or has followed them and enjoyed his music understands that about them.”