Relative: Boy voiced love after playground attack

People gather for a memorial vigil in the park that Michael Connor Verkerke, 9, was stabbed and killed Monday, Aug. 4, by a 12 year-old-boy, who is currently facing a murder charge, in Kentwood, Mich., Aug. 6, 2014. Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen said authorities were still investigating a motive for the attack. (AP Photo/Joel Bissell | MLive.com)
People gather for a memorial vigil in the park that Michael Connor Verkerke, 9, was stabbed and killed Monday, Aug. 4, by a 12 year-old-boy, who is currently facing a murder charge, in Kentwood, Mich., Aug. 6, 2014. Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen said authorities were still investigating a motive for the attack. (AP Photo/Joel Bissell | MLive.com)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) – A relative says some of the last words from a 9-year-old boy who died after being stabbed on a Michigan playground were about how much he loved his family.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that Jim Stearns spoke for Michael Conner Verkerke’s family at a vigil Wednesday night at the site of the attack, for which a 12-year-old is charged with murder.

Stearns said the 9-year-old told his brother after he was stabbed that he would always love him. Stearns told those gathered for the vigil at the Pinebrook Village mobile home park that the boy’s death has left the family “absolutely numb.”

The 12-year-old boy pleaded not guilty in juvenile court and was ordered held until an Aug. 13 preliminary hearing. The Associated Press is not naming him.

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