Connor Verkerke’s parents speak out about the loss of their 9-year-old

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WYOMING, Mich.—Connor Verkerke, a 9-year-old boy who was stabbed to death on a playground right by his home at Pinebrook Mobile Home Park on August 4, was honored throughout the weekend. It’s a loss that shook the community, and left his family mourning the loss of their oldest son.

This weekend, two fundraisers were held in Connor’s memory and in support of his family. One was held Friday at Kelloggsville Middle School and the other on Saturday at the high school.

For the first time, the family opened up to Fox 17 News about their memories of Connor and how they plan to move forward.

Forgiveness is a word that Jared and Dani Verkerke still struggle with every single second of every single day.

“It depends on the day if we feel forgiveness. We are still on a roller coaster of emotion with everything else. So some days, yes we feel like forgiving and some days not so much,” said Dani Verkerke, Connor’s mother.

Aside from forgiveness, coming to events that honor Connor touch their hearts but also brings back memories of watching their own son slip away.

“It’s a constant reminder of what happened to us, and constantly having to relive it,” said Jared Verkerke, Connor’s father.

Dani and Jared’s loss of their first born isn’t a pain that they ever expect to heal.

“It’s just all the things I still wanted to experience with him. When he turned 9 years old I kind of freaked out because I realized I only had 9 more years left to do all the things I wanted to do with him. Now I know I didn’t even have that much time,” said Dani.

The time they thought they had with Connor was lost at Pinebrook Village Mobile Park playground when police say Jamarion Lawhorn, only 12-years-old, stabbed Connor multiple times. Connor’s brother, Cameron, was there and watched as his older brother was brutally stabbed, and then tried to fight for his life.

“Cameron’s birthday was really hard. He said that he felt like this was going to be his worse birthday ever, because Connor was always at his birthdays, so he’s having a rough time,” said Dani.

Dani Verkerke says she’s returned to the playground only once since the incident upon Cameron’s request.

“Cameron felt he had to go back to the playground once to kind of show me everything, and I allowed him to do that. I could just see the whole thing as he was telling me about it,” said Dani.

For Jared, the memories of trying to stop his son from bleeding out haunt him day in and day out.

“He just kept trying to tell me that he loved me, and was trying to hold my hand,” said Jared.

Dani Verkerke can still hear Connor’s last word playing over and over in her head.

“The last thing I heard him say before going into the ambulance was ‘Mama’,” said Dani.

Dani and Jared are now advocates for change within Child Protective Services, which they say needs a lot of work. They say they emphasize with kids like Jamarion, who according to court documents, endured abuse years prior to the incident.

“I think ultimately Jamarion is responsible for his own actions. No one forced him to do what he did. It just hurts to know that a year before this happened something could have been done to maybe save him as well,” said Dani.

Forgiving is something they say they will continue to try to do, along with getting used to the fact the one of their boys is never coming home.

“That’s the hardest part. When we get off and do things as a family, knowing that there’s supposed to be four boys. That’s what’s really hard to do,” said Dani.

The Verkerke’s say a lot of people have been asking where the donations are going for these fundraising events honoring Connor. Right now more of the funds are going toward therapy sessions for the family.

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20 comments

  • ConnorIsLove

    Corrections: Kameron

    We are interested in advocating and volunteering with youth. We would like to see changes and accountability with CPS.

  • Aaron Krenz

    I could never forgive that monster who PLANNED to kill someone and did just that. I am sick about hearing about his “problems”.. his victim had problems too as does everyone and is now DEAD. You do not have to forgive to push anger and hate away. Frankly, if it was me, they would find that little monkey in a ditch

    • me

      I feel for Connor’s family I could not imagine the pain they feel. Me being a mother of three beautiful boys would have a hard time forgiving Jamarion but at the same time it would be hard not to. It is horrifying knowing that this 12yr old boy suffered so much abuse that he thought the only way out was to take a life and wished he would die himself. Yes he is responsible for his own actions it took a year for him to commit this crime…I think it took him that long because he was hoping and praying someone would save him. His parents and CPS are to blame for him becoming this little monster that people say he is. So now is he not only going to have to live with what he did for the rest of his life he is also being forgotten about he is not going to change because he is right where he was before. And you sir referring to him as a little monkey and saying he would be dead in a ditch makes you no better than his abusers. I hope you do not instill this kind of thinking and actions into your own children. God help them if you do. My prayers are with connor and his family.

  • Amanda

    I live very close to where the incident occurred and the first time I read about it my heart was broken. As a mother, I can’t even imagine the pain this family feels. It makes me sick to think it could have been prevented if the system would have just done what it was supposed to. I will continue to keep the whole Verkerke family in my thoughts and prayers daily.

  • Craig Carr

    Where is the GREAT AZZ AL Sharpton, If it had been a white kid stabbing a black kid there would be rioting in the streets, Where is the GREAT AZZ HOLE Jesse Jackson, He won’t step up and raise cain that a black kid profiled a white kid and stabed him several times. OH NO those 2 azzholes don’t care if a white kid gets killed by a black kid. 12 yrs old and killing someone.. He had some problems, But it was HIS CHOICE to stb another child. Kids killing kids..

  • pat

    In the state of New Mexico, CYFD says that even if a child is being abused, there is nothing they can do until the child is in the hospital or dead. I know this because 2 of the Governors aides called me and told me that after I wrote her a letter about my granddaughter being abused by her mothers boyfriend. And CYFD wasn’t doing anything to help my son protect his daughter. CYFD in New Mexico is a complete waste of taxpayer money since there is no real protection of children.

  • A

    I didn’t read anywhere where all the white people in that city were looting and rioting in the streets over this. A poor defenseless little boy is stabbed to death by a 12 year old black thug and we’re told to just forgive, feel sorry for this little piece of trash and move on. Everyone in this country knows that it’s NOT the white people that are the racists…IT’S THE BLACKS! And I’m so sick of it!