On August 4th, 2014, the scene at Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park in Kentwood, MI was like any normal playground scene in numerous schools, and apartment complexes across the country. However, on this day, the normal sounds of laughter drifting from the playground would turn into screams of pain and terror when a 9-year old boy was murdered at the hands of a 12-year old playmate while two other children witnessed the crime. All the children lived at Pinebrook Village.
The victim, Michael Connor Verkerke, ran home screaming with multiple stab wounds in his back. His bleeding body fell to the porch floor of his parent’s home. His mother screamed continually, “Where is the ambulance?” It was already on the way, as the 12-year old, Jamarion Lawhorn, had immediately ran to a neighbor’s house and asked to use the phone. The neighbor, Glenn Stacy, said he thought the child was just going to call home but the child called 911 instead. Stacy says that the boy said, “I just stabbed someone. Come and get me. I want to die.” Police did not understand what could have been the motive in this murder; however, the boy states that he took several pills that day.
Since the incident it has been discovered that the boy’s mother, Anita Lawhorn, voluntarily gave up two of her children after her 1-year old daughter was treated for four broken bones that were “unexplained” and her 3-year old daughter appeared to have cigarette burns all over her body. In 2013, Child Protective Services (CPS) investigated Jamarion’s mother and his stepdad on abuse allegations but failed to remove Jamarion from this, apparently, horrific home. The Office of Children’s Ombudsman has opened an investigation into whether CPS mishandled this case.
This tragic story almost begs the question: who should be charged for murder in this case? Who is really responsible for the tragic loss of Michael Connor Verkerke? Is Jamarion really responsible for his actions? Or did he just break under emotional duress, or perhaps even planned it in order to escape whatever horrors he was experiencing at home? Should the mother and stepdad be charged with the 9-year olds murder? Aren’t they responsible, indirectly, if neglect and abuse are proven?
I believe that the parents should be charged with murder and Jamarion should receive therapy, rather than incarceration, for the trauma he has experienced. Please share your thoughts on this story below.