Nine-year-old Michael Connor Verkerke’s last words were expressions of love towards his brother. The Associated Press reported that as Connor struggled for life after being stabbed multiple times in the back by a 12-year-old on the playground, he took the time to make sure his brother knew he loved him and that the stabbing was not his fault.
— Heidi Fenton (@FentoH) August 6, 2014
“If anything happens to me, it’s not your fault. I’ll always love you,” Verkerke told his brother, according to MLIVE. The brother took Connor back home after he was stabbed on the playground in the Kentwood, Michigan neighborhood. The nine-year-old collapsed on his porch when he arrived home. At a vigil honoring Michael Connor Verkerke, Jim Stearns, the slain boy’s great uncle, spoke of the Michigan boy’s last words. “This kid was amazing,” Stearns explained. “He was the sweetest, angelic kid you ever met.”
Michael Connor Verkerke was allegedly stabbed by 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn, who has been charged as an adult in the juvenile court. The young man charged with Connor’s murder entered a plea of “not guilty,” though he confessed to the stabbing when he called 911 to turn himself in.
Glen Stacy was doing yard work when the murder suspect asked to use the phone. Stacy told MLIVE that Jamarion called 911 and said, “Hi. I just stabbed somebody. Please pick me up. I want to die. I don’t want to be on this earth anymore. Please pick me up.” Jamarion allegedly told Stacy that he didn’t even know who he stabbed.
Jamarion told the dispatcher that he had taken many pills that day and felt like no one loved him. “The only time he raised his voice was when the police came,” Stacy said. When the police officers headed to the playground to try to save Connor, the 12-year-old yelled at them, “Hello. I’m right here. You’re going the wrong way.” Jamarion lived near Pinebrook Village, but he was not a regular friend of the neighborhood children.
Resident Kelsey Beukema said that she saw the boys before the stabbing occurred. “I saw the kid who did the stabbing, and he had this look on his face that was really creepy,” Buekema told the Detroit Free Press. “The only way that I can describe the look on his face is when you see a cheetah that is getting ready to pounce.” Beukema said the boys didn’t appear to be in an argument. Connor’s younger brother appeared to be jokingly teasing Jamarion. She said she figured Jamarion must have been new to the neighborhood.
Michael Connor Verkerke died later that night at the hospital, Kentwood police Chief Tom Hillen said.
Neighbor Diane Little told the Free Press about Connor, “He was just a little boy He’d dress up in Halloween stuff. He was the happiest, go-lucky boy you’ve ever seen. He’d be Batman one day, Superman the next. He’d wear a cape, and he was riding his bike.”
At the vigil held at Pinebrook Village mobile home park, Sterns said that Connor’s death has left the boy’s parents and three siblings absolutely numb, according to WLNS. Stearns said of Connor’s parents, “Their top priority right now is the mental health of their three remaining children.”
— Troy Campbell (@TroyLeeCampbell) August 6, 2014
At Pinebrook Village in Kentwood, Michigan, Michael Connor Verkerke could be seen on his bike, riding with other kids, on a daily basis. The neighborhood children played at the park daily. They felt safe there. Now, they are traumatized. The kids at the park, according to Connor’s great uncle, feel terrorized. Jason Beukema said he hoped that Pinebrook Village would form a neighborhood watch group to help the children feel safe again. Neighbor Adam Zachow said Connor was a typical, carefree boy. Sachow asked, “How do I explain to my 7-year-old his friend just got stabbed?”
Stabbed 9-year-old to brother: ‘I will always love you.’ Vigil held for Connor Verkerke: http://t.co/PS1p80oeOL pic.twitter.com/H1FBjzNMjd
— WOOD TV (@WOODTV) August 7, 2014
Those who wish to contribute money to the Verkerke family to help with funeral expenses for Michael Connor Verkerke can do so here.