KENTWOOD, Mich. — Reflecting back on what's unfolded in her family since Monday, Barbara Nunemaker is finding it extremely difficult to comprehend the 'senseless' act that killed her great grandson, 9-year-old Michael Connor Verkerke.
"Any person that knew him, knew Connor, is suffering a big loss," she said. "He was that type of child."
Nunemaker, who lives in Columbus, Ind., describes Connor as a leader, a charmer and 'just a good kid' who was the oldest of four great grandchildren in the family. She received the call from her daughter—Connor's grandmother—about what happened Monday on the playground.
"She took her heart out and tore it up and put it in the telephone," Nunemaker said. "That is all I can say. We had a good cry. We had a really good cry."
It's a loss their family has never dealt with before and one they may never be able to make sense of either as Nunemaker tries to comprehend what would drive a child to kill another child.
"Why wasn’t that child taught you cannot do that?" she said. "I feel sorry for the other boy, think of the confusion that child must have in his life."
Connor was with his younger brother Cameron on the playground in the Pinebrooks Village mobile home park Monday when he was stabbed repeatedly in the back with a kitchen knife by 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn. In the moments following the terrifying ordeal, Connor had his brother by his side.
"He said to Cameron, 'Cameron help me get back to the house,' he said 'I know I am dying and I want to give my Mom and Dad a kiss again before I die,' Nunemaker said through tears. "That’s all he could think, I want to kiss Mom and Dad one more time before I die."
As Nunemaker mourns the loss in her own family, she admits can't help but feel pain for the family of the suspect as well, adding she hopes he can get the help he needs.
"I have a lot empathy for the family, not my family but for the boy’s (suspect's) family who had this occur," she said. "There is something wrong with a family when that happens."
12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn is charged as an adult for Connor's murder, and investigators believe it was a random attack.
More information on the GoFundMe page set up for Connor can be found here.