Police say the human remains found Sunday in Oyster Creek near Richmond, Texas have been positively identified as the 27-year-old Kinston mother, who was reported missing on July 18. The identification was made through dental records.
The woman's torso was recovered Sunday and a human head and leg were pulled from the water by divers on Monday.
Around 1 a.m. Monday, Raleigh police arrested the father of Ackerson's two sons, 32-year-old Grant Ruffin Hayes, and his wife, 39-year-old Amanda Perry Hayes, in Kinston. Both are charged with murder in connection with Ackerson's death.
Texas deputies say they believe Ackerson was killed in North Carolina and then dismembered.
"It's one of the most gruesome scenes I've seen in 30-something years of law enforcement," said Chief Deputy Craig Brady of the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators found several ice chests at scene and said it's likely the coolers were used to transport body parts in a rented U-Haul from North Carolina to Texas.
Amanda Hayes' family owns a home near where the body parts were found.
Brady said the motive for the alleged killing remains unclear.
"I don't know if it was planned homicide or just tempers flared," Brady said. "I can't imagine someone being that cold and just uncaring that after the murder they took the steps of dismembering this lady in the matter they did and tossing her in a creek."
Neighbors at Bella Park Trail -- where Grant and Angela Hayes have an apartment -- said Tuesday that it chills them to hear that the two little boys Hayes fathered with Ackerson allegedly rode with the couple to Texas in a car with the coolers inside a U-Haul trailer.
"I do remember a U-Haul right there, and I do remember him and her going in and out, but I didn't know it was going to be this big of a deal," neighbor David Harrison said.
"To see someone that you speak to constantly, your neighbor that you see at the pool, see the two little boys playing, and then to see what happened," neighbor Cat Hillsman said. "To see the cops, I was like oh my God, I hope it isn't true. I recognized the missing lady, and I recognized the guy. Those two little boys, they don't have a mother or a father now."
Meanwhile, authorities continue to search for evidence in Texas, Raleigh detectives have been in the Lone Star state since Sunday. The Raleigh Police Department is the lead agency in the investigation.
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's 2006 white Ford Focus was found Wednesday near an apartment building at 5400 Summit Manor Lane in north Raleigh. Ackerson, Hayes, and their children once lived at the complex and a woman living there told ABC11 Hayes' current home is not far away.
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.
Her family says even before Ackerson was reported missing, she was estranged from the family because, they say, Grant Hayes kept her away.
"Very controlling and very manipulative," Ackerson's brother Jason Ackerson said. "It was hard to contact her without her getting in fear of her life her ex-boyfriend. And we should have taken the threats more seriously."
Ackerson's brother says the toughest thing he has ever done was to call his mother Monday morning to tell her Laura was dead.
Although Ackerson's mother's intuition told her last week that her daughter may never come home again, she was still crushed by the news.
"Grant Hayes and his wife are monsters," Jason Ackerson said. "And I hope that anybody that knows them or has followed them and enjoyed his music understands that about them."
Grant Hayes is a local musician in Raleigh, who is known by the stage name, Grant Haze. According to social networking sites, he and his wife recently had a child together.
In a video posted online of Grant Hayes, he claimed his wife is an actress.
"She's been in some movies and TV shows and she's also a guitar player and I'm her instructor," Hayes said in the video.
The couple married last year.