Chief Deputy Brady told the Houston Chronicle: ‘It’s one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve seen in 30-something years of law enforcement.’
Police have not yet officially confirmed the body belongs to Miss Ackerson, but said they were ’99 per cent sure’ it was hers.
Hayes’s Facebook page is full of seemingly idyllic family photographs of him, his new wife and the boys at their upscale home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
He works as an artist and a pop acoustic musician, with the stage name Grant Haze. He even posted a song on YouTube in tribute to his baby daughter soon after she was born.
Today it emerged the couple might have been planning a new life in the Virgin Islands, where he lived with Miss Ackerson while they were dating.
Mark Gierth, one of Hayes’s friends, said he had a conversation with the musician the day before Miss Ackerson went missing about his plans to move back.
He told NBC17: ‘He said it looks like the only way he’d get joint custody is if he lived in North Carolina.
‘He can’t make any money there doing what he’s doing, so he’s going to let Laura have the kids and he was going to move back to St. Thomas.’
Miss Ackerson was last seen on July 13, when she dropped the boys off with Hayes.
She was reported missing on July 18, three days after she didn’t show up to collect her sons Grant, three, and Gentle, aged one, for a weekend visit.
In an interview shortly after Miss Ackerson went missing, Hayes’s mother Patsy told ABC News: ‘They [the boys] get over things a lot faster and they could probably not be affected by things as much as adults are.
‘You know because they are small and they’re very resilient so they probably figure they’re just staying with dad now.’
A judge granted Hayes temporary custody of the boys in June, after an acrimonious custody battle stretching back to March 2010.
He ruled Miss Ackerson was unfit to look after her children because at the time she was unemployed and still living with Hayes’s parents.
She had the boys at weekends and they stayed with their father and his wife during the week.
She met him at a gas station in Wilson every Friday at 5pm to pick them up – until July 15.
According to her friend, Jo Jackson, Miss Ackerson was doing her best to get the boys back.
She started her own marketing business from home and had been taking online courses at Lenoir Community College.
She had also started going to church, and the congregation of the Grace Fellowship Church in Kingston had been praying for her safe return every day after she went missing.
Miss Jackson said: ‘We know that Laura would not just not show up to pick up her children. That is not Laura. That is not Laura at all.’
She was due to attend a court hearing on August 15, at which she planned to ask for joint custody of the boys.
She as reported missing by her friend and business partner Chevon Mathes, who said she was happy and had been finding new clients for the company.
She said: ‘She always had her little boys and she seemed like great mother.’
So sad. That’s incredibly callous what the man’s mother said too. Wonder if she knew anything about her son’s murderous ways???