All involved seek answers in Kentwood stabbing death

Updated: Thursday, August 7, 2014
All involved seek answers in Kentwood stabbing death story image

KENTWOOD, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Experts spoke to Newschannel 3 Wednesday on what may have lead a 12 year old to fatally stab a 9 year old on the playground Monday night at Pinebrooke Village in Kentwood.

Police say the attack was seemingly unprovoked, and more than anything, people are looking for answers—and wanting to know why this happened.

In the 48 hours since the incident, a small memorial has begun to take shape in honor of 9-year-old Connor Verkerke.

Right now, police are still investigating and trying to figure out what happened before the attack.

It was on a playground near the Pinebrooke Village mobile home park that police say 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn stabbed and killed Connor.

"There's no reason to believe there was an argument in process, it just kinda out of the blue," said Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen.

But child psychologist Bridget Nolan says generally such violent behavior typically comes with warning signs.

"Usually, kids don't just kind of do this behavior out of nowhere," she said. "One of the main things to look for--in children especially--is change of attitude, so their demeanor, their behavior, withdrawing from activities that they previously enjoyed."

Nolan says parents should be aware of changes in their childrens' sleeping and eating patterns as well.

"Some of those are indications that something internally is going on," she explained.

And when it comes to depictions of violence, Nolan says it's easily accessible for many children.

"There are things that are seen in common everyday movies, on the news, in video games," she said. "I have kids that tell me the level of violence in video games that they witness that are appalling and their parents have no idea that that level of violence is going on."

But she says we may never be able to figure out exactly what prompted Connor's murder.

"That's the million dollar question everybody wants to know including us," Chief Hillen said.

Family and friends are planning a candlelight vigil for Connor--which is set to begin here at 7:00.

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