Nearly two and a half years after the murder of her grandson, Toni Nunemaker has published a book about her family’s grief.
“It was a huge tragedy obviously in our lives,” Nunemaker said. “It took the longest time for us to even recover enough to eat and breath again. It was a struggle.”
On Aug. 4, 2014 Connor Verkerke, 9, was fatally stabbed by then 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn while playing on a playground in Kentwood. It was later discovered that Lawhorn was a victim of abuse. Kent County’s youngest killer was sentenced to live in a juvenile home.
Nunemaker said one week before the death of her grandson, Connor told her she should write a book: “I said what on earth would I write a book about? And he said: love.”
It took her several years to cope with the tragedy, but Nunemaker credits her faith, community support and Connor’s joy for life as inspiration for her story, Hey Nana.
"In the book I talk about all the miracles that happened in my life that allowed me to stay alive," Nunemaker said. "Because quite frankly, I hurt -- my heart hurt so bad I thought I was going to die. I didn’t think I could survive.”
Since the trial, Nunemaker has formed an unlikely friendship with Lawhorn’s mother. She regularly drives her to visit her son at the Muskegon River Youth Home in Evart.
“I want what’s best for Jamarion because now he lives for Connor as well,” Nunemaker said.
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