A 12-year-old boy fatally stabbed a nine-year-old at a Kentwood, Michigan playground on Monday.
The incident occurred at a play area at the Pinewood Village Mobile Home Park, where 9-year-old Michael Conner Verkerke was stabbed in the back. According to the Kentwood police department, the boy died of his injuries at an area hospital.
Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen said the 12-year-old attacker, who lives in the area, approached three other boys, then pulled out the kitchen knife and started stabbing Verkerke repeatedly. An autopsy will reveal how many times Verkerke was stabbed.
After the assault, the attacker walked over to a neighboring house to ask to use a cellphone. Witness Glen Stacey explained, “The young man approached my house wanting to borrow my phone. I assumed he wanted to call his mother. And he said, ‘Hi. I stabbed someone. Please pick me up.’ So I calmly started doing my normal stuff. I didn’t want to agitate him.”
Stacey said the tween also admitted to taking pills earlier in the day, and when police arrived, he calmly turned himself in and mentioned that he wanted to end his life. He also commented that he didn't want to be on earth any longer. Chief Hillen said it appears the boys were not previously acquainted, and police are trying to determine if the attack was random.
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Stacey added, “To see a kid this young not to feel loved, I’m really saddened. I hope he gets the help that he needs. This kid is reaching out for help - I can tell -but he’s reaching for it in the wrong ways.”
Eleven-year-old Tayah Fritch, who said she’s friends with Verkerke, commented, “He didn’t deserve this."
The attacker was taken to an area hospital for evaluation, and is presently in custody at the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center, pending formal charges. If the boy is charged with murder, he will be the second youngest in Michigan history. The youngest was Nathaniel Abraham, who was 11 when he was arrested in 1997.
"We are still investigating and trying to determine a cause for this tragedy," police said in a statement.
Image via Wikimedia Commons