Police seek answers in fatal Kentwood stabbing

KENTWOOD, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A 12-year-old boy accused of stabbing and killing a 9-year-old on a playground has officially been charged with murder.

The attack happened Monday night at Pinebrooke Village in Kentwood, but police say they're still trying to determine what provoked it.

The attacker--identified by police late Tuesday afternoon as 12-year-old Jamario Lawhorn--was in court that day, and is being charged as an adult in the juvenile system.

At this point, police are still investigating, and trying to figure out just how and why this could have happened.

It was 6:00 p.m. Monday night when four children were playing on a playground near a mobile home park in Kentwood.

Police say out of nowhere, Lawhorn got a knife and repeatedly stabbed 9-year-old Michael Verkerke in the back.

They say Verkerke ran to his home, but collapsed on the porch area. He later died at the hospital.

His alleged attacker, meanwhile, left the park.

"The suspect in this case went to a nearby residence, and asked to use the phone, and called police, and said: 'I just stabbed somebody. Come get me.'" said Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen.

Neighbor Eric Jost says he's known Michael for about 7 months, and he was a happy child.

"He was a wild kid, like me; he liked renaissance stuff, so he'd dress in renaissance, liked to wrestle, play with friends...typical 9-year-old," Jost said.

Right now, police are trying to determine what prompted the attack.

"That's the million dollar question everybody wants to know, including us," Chief Hillen said. "And so that's why we're spending a fair amount of time interviewing people and looking at other evidence to try to get a very good picture on how or why this occurred."

Lawhorn is due back in court August 13 for a preliminary hearing.

But due to the nature of the crime, he could be sentenced as an adult if convicted in this case.