Missing North Carolina Woman Would Never Leave Kids, Friend Says

PHOTO: Laura Jean AckersonPlayWTVD/ABC News
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The North Carolina woman who went missing more than a week ago would have never left town unannounced without her two sons, her former sister-in-law said this morning.

"She would have never showed up missing without the boys," Sheri Lynne Ackerson said of missing Laura Jean Ackerson of Kinston, N.C. "She would never take off and leave her kids."

Sheri Lynne Ackerson was once married to Laura's brother and, she said, let Laura come live with her and her ex-husband when she was in her late teens.

Laura Jean Ackerson, 27, was last heard from July 13 and police believe she was in Wilson, N.C., attending a business meeting before she disappeared. Her co-worker, Chevon Mathes, filed a report with Kinston police Monday when Laura failed to show up to work at her marketing-company job.

Police reported Wednesday morning that Laura's 2006 white Ford Focus was found in Raleigh. Investigators do not suspect foul play at this time and the case has been turned over to the Raleigh Police Department.

Sheri Lynne Ackerson, who said the two were once close friends, lived with Laura for about a year and remembers a bubbly girl with a big personality.

"She is very outgoing, that girl is amazing. She can talk to anybody, was happy and bubbly. I was envious about how she could just strike up a conversation with anyone," Ackerson said, adding that the two lost touch, something that now she regrets.

"I feel so bad, I wish I had stayed in contact with her," she said.

Laura was supposed to meet the father of her two sons, Grant Hayes, Friday to see her children but never showed up, Hayes' mother, Patsy Hayes, said.

"He called me Friday and he was telling me that she had not shown up," Hayes told CBS affiliate WNCT. "He seemed a little frustrated because he had the kids in the car for an hour and a half and they were hot."

She also said Ackerson and her son, though never married, are engaged in a custody battle for the children.

A neighbor at the Kinston apartment complex where Ackerson lives said she's surprised to hear that the mother went missing.

"When I saw her last, I saw her last Sunday and she had the boys with her then," neighbor Connie Moye said. "We have a little park in the apartment complex" where Moye said Ackerson was taking them.

Laura is described as white with brown hair and hazel eyes, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 135 pounds. Raleigh police are asking anyone with information to call (919) 834-HELP.