KENTWOOD, Mich.,– Family, friends, former teachers, law enforcement and fellow cub scouts gathered Wednesday as 9-year-old Connor Verkerke was laid to rest.
Verkerke was stabbed to death in a southern Kent County playground, a senseless tragedy that continues to leave people asking why.
However, Wednesday was about celebrating Connor’s life and the impact he left behind.
Connor’s grandmother, Sue Fiebig, says Connor loved to dance, sing, play soccer and make friends.
“Just a fun loving kid who enjoyed everything, wasn’t afraid to make new friends and that’s what happened that day, he made a new friend,” she said.
She says the family is thankful for the outpouring of support.
Connor’s former teacher also spoke, recalling the Verkerke’s kind, loving demeanor as the thing he’ll remember most about him. Something Connor’s father echoed; he called Connor his hero, teaching him what it’s truly like to love.
“My 9-year-old son encompassed those better in his 9 years than I have been able to accomplish in 30 years. I have never known anybody to love completely and fully and without condition and without a care in the world,” his dad said.
A young life with so much more to give, taken too soon in a tragedy still hard to understand and for those close to Connor they continue to seek answers.
“Our instinct, I know this was for us to bring our children close and to close the doors, close the gates of the village and protect them. Maybe the answer is to open the gates of the village, open the gates and bring every child in, every parent in, every villager in. Bring them inside and hold them and when that love enfolds them I think we can make a difference, this is a vivid reminder.”
As for the suspect, 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn, he is awaiting a competency exam. Fiebig said today they aren’t angry with his parents, and they hope Lawhorn gets the help he needs.