Grant Hayes Trial: The investigation into Laura's death

August 30, 2013

Laura Ackerson

The Grant Hayes murder trial continued today, with more details coming out about the initial investigation into his ex-girlfriend Laura Ackerson’s disappearance. Among the witnesses were two of Laura’s friends, some investigators with the Kinston and Raleigh police departments, an agent from the SBI, and finally, Amanda Hayes’ daughter.


Heidi Schumaker Laura’s best friend, Heidi Schumaker, took the stand again for the second day. The Defense tried to establish that Laura had lied to Heidi about her relationship with Grant, and that it had been over for a lot longer than she had admitted to her friends. They also tried to cast doubt on the fact that Laura had truly thought that she and Grant had been married.

The real shocker came on re-direct. The Prosecution questioned Heidi about an incident in which she had been on the phone with Laura when she heard Grant screaming at her in the background. Laura hung up the phone, but Heidi decided to drive over to her house because she was worried. When she got there, Grant was just leaving, and when Laura came to the door, she had a bloody nose and the beginnings of a black eye.

James Gwartney Detective James Gwartney was the lead investigator with the Kinston police department, assigned to Laura’s missing persons case. He conducted interviews with Laura’s friends, did a walk-through of her apartment, and checked Laura’s phone and bank records for activity. He transferred the case over to the Raleigh Police Department when it was learned that Laura had last been seen in Raleigh.

Lolita Chapman Lolita Chapman is a criminal agent with the North Carolina SBI. She was asked to assist the Kinston Police Department with the investigation into Laura’s disappearance. Chapman testified that she assisted in the walk-through of Laura’s apartment, and was there when Laura’s laptop and journal were retrieved.

Dana Suggs Dana Suggs is a sergeant with the Raleigh Police Department. Suggs received info about Laura’s car being found in an apartment complex in Raleigh.

Oksana Samarskiy Oksana was a good friend of Laura’s, who had been introduced to her earlier in the year by Heidi Schumaker. Oksana said Laura didn’t talk to her much about her personal life, but every once in awhile she would make comments referencing her rocky relationship with Grant. The State played a voicemail that Laura had left for Oksana the day she disappeared, in which she said she was going by Grant’s place and that she would call Oksana afterwards.

Sha Guddat Sha is Amanda Hayes’ daughter, and her testimony was by far the most interesting one yet. Sha testified that she received a phone call from her mom on July 14, asking her to take Grant and Laura’s two sons for the day, something that she didn’t normally do. Sha took the little boys for the day and when she returned to the home, her mom asked her to loan her a vacuum cleaner because theirs had broke. Sha also testified that after the arrests, she went to Grant and Amanda’s apartment to pick up stuff for the boys, since they were going to be staying at their grandparents’ home. While there, she noticed that one of the bathrooms had been completely stripped down – no toilet seat covers, no rugs, no shower curtains. This was unusual. She also found some cell phones and a manual for a handheld saw, which she turned over to police.

Testimony continues on Tuesday. You can read my live blog below (excuse the misspellings).

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