New details emerge after deadly playground attack

KENTWOOD, Mich. — A community in Kentwood is in mourning following a fatal stabbing that took place between two kids on the playground Monday evening.

It happened Monday at Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park at about 6 p.m.

Victim: Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, Kentwood, Mich.

Victim: Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, Kentwood, Mich.

Police said four children were at the playground inside the mobile home park when a 12-year-old pulled out a knife and began stabbing Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, repeatedly in the back.

Adam Zachow, who lives across the street from the Verkerke’s, said his kids spend the weekend playing with Michael, who goes by his middle name, Conner.

“For about a year and a half, they were good, little buddies,” Zachow said. “They played, they had fun…road on their bikes…played in the sand park…did what little boy’s do.”

Police said after the stabbing, ran to his home, which is two short blocks from the playground. Once he arrived, he collapsed on the porch. Conner died a short time later at a nearby hospital.

“It just made me wonder what two children could have that big of a conflict about,” Zachow, said. “I think the kid just came to do it. I don’t know…I don’t… it’s hard to grasp…I just don’t get it.”

FOX 17 spoke with some other people who live close to the Verkerke residence.  One person said they saw Conner’s brother carrying him down the street after the stabbing. They said once the boy could no longer hold Conner he laid him down.

During that time, one witness, who wants to remain anonymous, said the suspect was lurking around the corner. That person tells FOX 17 the 12-year-old, who police identify as Jamarion Lawhorn, came out and asked to borrow a phone. That’s when Lawhorn called 911 and turned himself in. He then, according to the witness, said he took some pills earlier in the day and that he wanted to end his life. However, police have not confirmed that information.

A candlelight vigil will be held for Conner on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the playground where he was stabbed. A GoFundMe account is also in place to help pay for funeral expenses.

“My heart goes out to them. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through right now,” Zachow said. “It was normal for me to sit out here and watch them all play on their bikes out in the road, but it’s going to be different now. I’ve still got to figure out how to break it to my children.  How do you tell, ya know, an 8-year-old little kid that their friends no longer because of a stupid decision of another child.”

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45 comments

  • renee

    Horrible, senseless crime/murder. RIP dear Conner Verkerke. Gone far too soon. May justice prevail and punish the murderer. ASAP! Parents, teach your children. Be aware of what they are doing and saying, etc.

    • Bethany

      I hope the little bast**d is arrested for a hate crime. If it was the other way around, Al Sharpton and the brainless KoolAid drinking liberals would be all over this one. This kid will be trash when he gets out of prison and will do worse crimes.

  • tracyd112

    So sad RIP Conner Parents Please Listen to your CHILDREN no matter what there age.This boy could have been reaching out for help before this and noone listened?But it is not an excuse to murder anyone.He knows right from wrong but his Parents need to be looked at also if he tried committing suicide earlier .JUST so SAD for all involved may they find the strength to get through all of this.

  • Anonymous

    I am endlessly heartbroken over this tragedy. Conner’s family and friends of family are in my heart during this hard time. As a mother, my tears have not stopped since I heard. I have a 9yo son as well and keep imagining if such a tragic loss befell my family… I am speechless. Verkerke family, we mourn with you. Nobody deserves this. Rest in peace, sweet Conner. Such a beautiful boy.

  • Kathy England Moore

    He’s only 12 but if he wanted to take his own life why did he decide to take someone else’s? He is obviously very messed up! Poor kid to have to resort to this before reaching out to someone for help! RIP Conner you didn’t deserve this by any means! Bless both families as they struggle to get through this!

    • Susan

      You are as sick in the head as this POS demonic murderous kid is. Your calling him a “poor kid”? You are insane if you can’t figure out who the victim is. You have no sense of morals and hell (if there is one) has an opening for you as well. I bet you’re the type of weirdo that feels bad for Adam Lanza. My kids went to Sandy Hook and guess what you soulless mindless being I feel sorry for all the children and staff that were killed not that POS Lanza.

  • Dee

    What a beautiful boy! My heart is breaking for him, his family and yes, even his attacker. I wonder who the witness was that saw Conner being carried by his brother until he could carry him no more and saw the attacker lurking…did this person help or just watch?

    • Susan

      My thoughts exactly. This was more horrendous than Trayvon Martin but it will not get the same press and the president won’t even acknowledge it like he did with Martin. This small demonic minion needs to be charged with hate crimes as well.

  • CrazyKat

    My heart breaks for the Verkerkes. And for the family of the troubled boy who did this. It’s easy to live in fear but more and more, kids need to be taught to tune in, listen to their gut, not minimize or rely on adults to notice first. If something is wrong, move away. Tell an adult. Yell for help. This is the conversation we had at home. My kids (ironically 12 & 9, boys) carry cell phones so that even when I cannot be seeing and hearing everything they do, they can check with me if something’s amiss (with other kids or other adults they may be with at the time) or call 911 if there is actual danger. I am not saying this could have been prevented, because I have no idea. It’s important to claim a sense of self-empowerment when chaos happens, vs settle into feeling like a sitting victim.

  • Polish Princess

    Some news stories are so horrible I don’t even want to know. This is one of those. What a beautiful, precious little boy. My heart breaks for his family.

  • Jack Kramer

    What the “F@@@” is going on with our nation that a 12 year old child kills a 9 year old child????? I am crying so badly, these are the children I swore and swear every day to protect that are now killing each other. What the HE@@ is so wrong with us as Americans that our babies are inflicting this much pain on each other their families and our values here in the USA that cause it to happen? You parents that talk shit, hurt and yell at your family and children STOP IT!! Your children learn by example!!! You are the cause and inspiration for it!! STOP IT PLEASE, and let your and all the kids be kids not turf guards!!!!!!!!!!! I am so ashamed as an American to be a part of a nation, state, county, city and community that has now become an INTERNATIONAL news horror story from all the self centered ideals some of our nations citizens have now taken to life’s travels! Please pray for these little boys, their families and our nation that this type of horror stops soon!

    • Jack Kramer

      What the “F@@@” is going on with our nation that a 12 year old child kills a 9 year old child????? I am crying so badly, these are the children I swore and swear every day to protect that are now killing each other. What the HE@@ is so wrong with us as Americans that our babies are inflicting this much pain on each other their families and our values here in the USA that cause it to happen? You parents that talk shit, hurt and yell at your family and children STOP IT!! Your children learn by example!!! You are the cause and inspiration for it!! STOP IT PLEASE, and let your and all the kids be kids not turf guards!!!!!!!!!!! I am so ashamed as an American to be a part of a nation, state, county, city and community that has now become an INTERNATIONAL news horror story from all the self centered ideals some of our nations citizens have now taken to life’s travels! Please pray for these little boys, their families and our nation that this type of horror stops soon!

    • Bob

      Believe it or not, the food we and our children eat alters our moods and emotions. GMO’s do more damage then any one of us knows, mix in the anti depressants that are now part of half of Americans daily intake they morph through the DNA when the embryo is formed. Out come…. messed up kids.

      • Joe Schmuckatelli

        Way to nail it, Bob. GMO’s are why one child killed another. Ever think about putting in for Surgeon General or head of the CDC? You’re insight will surely enlighten the rest of the country. Or not.

      • rawbasil

        I agree Bob! Artificial foods, pharmaceuticals, crappy water all play a huge role in how people act. The american diet sucks. The body doesn’t know what to do with all these lab made foods, therefore people act irrational, become depressed, and can’t function. Eat REAL food & you just may make better decisions! Eat to live not live to eat.

      • Susan

        I bet you you his mother is messed up on something and he doesn’t know who his father is. I see this alot with children in broken homes. It is a shame DCF (as far as I know) was not involved with his family. It seems that the lack of caring with social services in states are with minorities and hence why we see such dangerous situations. They seem to focus more on white families (like Justina Pelletier) where they simply destroy well rounded families. I have seen this all too much working in the field of law.

  • Zegota

    It is extremely sad but it shows just how sick our society has become, we need our leaders today. To set an example for everyone, strong ethics, strong morals and family values, we must turn this country around and back to its Christian roots. Get the picture…

  • Jax

    Or maybe it’s the gluten. I’ve heard that stuff is the cause of all the world’s evils. Anything but ascribing any kind of personal responsibility (known now days as blaming and judgementalism). I get that he’s only twelve. TWELVE , not two. He knows right from wrong. Even if he can’t fully form the intent to kill, he brought the knife to the playground. He intended something not good.

    • crista

      A lot of children have reactive attachment disorder. This is when there was a lack of love and bonding in the infancy years caused by unloving or too busy caregivers, sickness, drugs…etc. and the child did not develop a bond or trust with the caregiver. These are the babies who cry and no one responds. They do not learn what love and trust is. They do not learn what attachment is. They do not develop morals, judgement or a conscience. These are the children who can hurt, torture and kill an animal, or in this case, another child, and have no sense that this is wrong. They get “stuck” at the age that this lack of attachment stopped. He may be twelve, but his development may be that of a four year old. I’m not saying this is a fact in this case, just saying that perhaps he has some form of mental illness that the parents did not recognize. Parents need to spend time with their children, get to really know them, and reach out for help if they think there is something abnormal. Mental illness is real and affects children. I am so sorry for both of the families.

  • jerry

    its the worthless moms making babys with worthless nigs never around to bring up there basterd kids hes 12 try him as a adult and toss his little black ass in jail tell hes 99

  • it hurts

    SICKENING. My heart bleeds for the mother of this child. This is the stuff race wars are made out of. Let’s not go that route America. Our hearts are all the SAME color. We are ALL responsible for this mess we’re in.

    • You'Nique Jefferson

      WHAT ABOUT A DONATION FOR JAMARION HE FAMILY GOTTA PAY FO A LAWYER JAMARION FAMBILY NEED A LAWYER FUND. MAN DAS RAYCISS.

      • AS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN

        THAT CHILD DOESNT NEED ANY TYPE OF DONATION BECAUSE HE DOESNT NEED A LAWYER HE DOWN RIGHT ADMITTED TO POLICE THAT HE REPEATEDLY STABBED THIS POOR CHILD. WHO KNOWS WHY HE DID IT BUT HE TOOK A CHILDS LIFE!!!!!! HE IS BEING TRIALED AS AN ADULT AND IS BEING CHARGED WITH OPEN MURDER.

        HE IS BEING PUNISHED FOR HIS ACTIONS; NOT HIS SKIN TONE

  • cw

    This is so sad. But why is this boy not being charged with a hate crime aswell? So sick and tired of reading these stories of kids and adults not being charged with hate crimes when it’s black on white violence, seems to only happen when it’s white on black. This kid will be in jail till he is 18 or 21 and be released just hope he doesn’t repeat. Poor kid his life cut short for no reason what so ever!!

    • CEHD

      If you had been following this story or read any of the earlier articles you would know there were three other boys besides the two involved in the “hate crime” and that the murderer stabbed the victim randomly, as in he was the closest, meaning if it he were any other race, it would not have made a difference. This little boy is dead because the murder’s parents and other adults in his life failed to see signs of distress. No 12-year-old wakes up one day and decides to kill another child. What is wrong in your life that you find it necessary to believe that someone that young is intentionally killing someone because of their race? You must be a baby boomer, all of you old dummies can’t seem to get it out of your heard that people younger than you don’t hate other people based on the color of other people’s skin. Even children who grow up in and around hate groups leave as soon as they’re old enough because they know that crap is played out and being a bigot will not get you anywhere in life. Tired of old people trying to spread their racism all over the place.

  • You'Nique Jefferson

    HE WAS A GOOD BOY JUST TRYIN TO GET HIS LIFE ON TRACK HE DIDNT DO NOTHIN WRONG THE POLICE IS RACIST MY LITTLE ANGEL NEVER HURT NOBODY. OH YA BTW INNOSINT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY DAS HOW IT WORK IN USA. OH YA HE ALSO PLEAD NOT GUILTY SO DAT MEANS HE IN NOT GUILTY!!! MY LITTLE ANGEL WOULD NEVER TELL A LIE

    • annonymous2

      You are an idiot. Period. There are not enough words to explain how stupid you look right now. Not guilty? WRONG. Say bye-bye to your little angel. Guess you should’ve raised him right. And I pray that you never bring another child into this world to raise, because quite frankly, it’s obvious you’re not educated enough to have such responsibility. Prayers to Conner’s family. May he rest in peace.

  • Amy Amrap

    It’s possible the perpetrator will be uplifted and grieved. It’s possible Conner will be demonized. I hope Conner is left to rest in sweet peace.

  • Ih8negros

    Just another niglet who will get his edumactions in prison. Maybe he will get internal colon bleeding from Tyrone to make him turn his life around since you know “he diddnt do nuffin”

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