12-year-old calls 911: ‘I just stabbed someone and I want to end my life’

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KENTWOOD, Mich. – A family is grieving and a Michigan community is in shock after a 9-year-old boy was stabbed to death at a playground in his neighborhood this week.

The shock felt in Kentwood, just outside of Grand Rapids, is as much over the sudden and senseless loss of Michael Conner Verkerke as it is over the circumstances of his death: The person accused of stabbing him was a 12-year-old he had just met at the playground.

Stabbing victim 9-year-old Michael “Conner” Verkerke. Courtesy: WXIN

Stabbing victim 9-year-old Michael “Conner” Verkerke. Courtesy: WXIN

Conner was playing with three other children Monday “when one of the children, for an unknown reason, pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed one of the other children,” a Kentwood Police Department statement said.

Police say the attacker is 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn. A motive, if there is one, is unknown at this point, as the boys were not acquainted, according to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.

Lawhorn was charged Tuesday with murder. Though he’ll be tried in a juvenile court, it will be as an adult, according to Becker, who added that his office has not yet decided whether the murder charges will be first or second degree.

Charles Boekeloo, Lawhorn’s court-appointed attorney, said he met his client for the first time at his arraignment Tuesday but had no further comment. Boekeloo entered a not guilty plea on the youth’s behalf.

Police said that after he was stabbed, Conner managed to run back home before he collapsed on the porch. An ambulance rushed him to a hospital, where he died Monday night.

Lawhorn, meanwhile, “left the playground then went to a nearby residence where he asked to use the phone,” Kentwood Chief of Police Thomas Hillen said.

“I thought he was calling for his parents to come pick him up,” homeowner Glen Stacy told CNN. He wasn’t. “He called 911,” he said.

Stacy described Lawhorn as “calm and collected” throughout, and that he told the 911 dispatcher, “Hi, I just stabbed someone, please pick me up and come kill me, I want to end my life.”

The boy then calmly handed back the phone with the operator still on the line, according to Stacy, and they waited for police to arrive. “At no point did I feel threatened,” he said.

12-year-old stabbing suspect Jamarion Lawhorn. Courtesy: WXIN

12-year-old stabbing suspect Jamarion Lawhorn. Courtesy: WXIN

Stacy said that when the first officers arrived on the scene, they ran toward the playground, which was in the opposition direction. That prompted Lawhorn to raise his voice for the first time, according to Stacy.

“Hey! I’m over here!” Stacy said he shouted. “Let’s do this. I’m ready,” he said as he walked toward them with his hands on his head, Stacy said.

A competency hearing will be held soon, according to police, but Becker has already predicted an outcome: “My gut tells me they will go for an insanity plea,” he said.

One expert said that based on the circumstances and violent nature of the act, it would appear Lawhorn — who turned 12 in March — suffers from mental illness.

“The instrument in this case says something about his state of mind,” said Dr. Charles Williams, a child psychotherapist at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “It’s easy to pick up a gun and shoot someone, but to stab someone repeatedly with a knife — that’s a very personal and very angry act from a psychological standpoint.”

In Kentwood, a GoFundMe page was established Tuesday to pay for Conner’s funeral. By Wednesday evening, 166 people donated more than $7,000 for the cause.

Lawhorn is being held at the Kent County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for August 13.

16 comments

  • amber

    Its the white child who was stabbed not the black child. How sad I was shocked how scewed up are the parents? To make a 12 year old hate his life so much. He stated he wanted to die I assume the wanted death by cops

  • amber

    Ive never hurd of a 12 year old comiting a crime like that. And I think his family life should be looked at meantally ill or not most have to have it bad at home to snap or something set him off. One thing for sure is something was wrong

  • Lincoln

    If you realistically think about the track record of the press, or do any research, you would have to agree that if the races were reversed that it would be labeled a hate crime and it would be all over the television news. There would be marches and calls accusations toward the parents for fostering racism. Yet most of the above comments are how sad you are for the 12 year old and how bad his home life must have been. It is racist to label anyone a racist that has a dissenting opinion to yours.

  • alicia

    Why when something happens to a black person by a white person its racist but when a black person does something they r mentally ill. When blacks dont like whites thats racist too. So as far as the cause of tge stabbin nobody knows. It could behatred or racism or just plain out sick. Nobidy knows except the lil boy who did it and no mater how hard of life he had does not give him the right to stab somebody much less another child. Murder is murder no matter the mental state and if he does have problems untreated the parents should be held liable for not gettin treatment bcuz if every criminal can pull a mental state then this world is full of a bunch of idiots that gets set free bcuz there sick no thats why there are doctors in prison

  • Jasmine

    As a young black female this breaks my heart to see any race of children in this situation. Whether its the innocent little boy who was stabbed or the little boy who commited this very violent act! Every race should stop using race as a crutch!! I am a God fearing woman and race will be the least of our problems when the day of Judgement arrives! So instead of pointing fingers, Pray for both sides of this horrible tragedy!! In fact, pray for all the little innocent babies in corrupt world! God bless us all!

  • Mosquito

    You people know perfectly well that if the roles were reversed the white kid would be called a “racist”, and this would be described as a “Hate crime” all the way up to the White House. Grow up.

    Are we all equal, or not? If we are, then “hate crime” knows no color.

    Or……is it just possible that “hate crime” is a concept invented by racists? Hmmmmm………

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