Vernetta Cockerham, Candice Cockerham’s mother, where Is Now?
The Investigation Discovery documentary “Evil Lives Here: The Monster Inside Him” explores how Vernetta Cockerham overcame a horrible tragedy to advocate for domestic violence victims worldwide. The story of a woman who battled the city and the system to improve things for other victims after losing her only daughter, Candice Cockerham, is remarkable. Who is Vernetta Cockerham, then? Let’s investigate.
Vernetta Cockerham: Who is she?
1969 saw the birth of Vernetta Cockerham in Paterson, New Jersey. She was the youngest of three sisters, and because their parents were unable to provide a stable home for them, Marie Edmonds, their paternal grandmother, reared them all from an early age. The sisters moved to the small North Carolina town of Jonesville with Marie, a professional nurse who worked at a nearby nursing home, when they were old enough to go to school. In keeping with her traditional upbringing, Marie took her grandchildren to church every Sunday and fed them canned veggies.
Vernetta learned how to defend herself and fight from Marie, a lesson that stuck with her so deeply that she later used it to challenge and alter the system. Vernetta moved to Paterson, New Jersey, where she lived with her father and attended high school, after moving to Newark, New Jersey, when she was 14 in an effort to get to know her mother. Vernetta, a math tutor, had linebacker Kevin Baker as a student just the summer before her sophomore year. They had a brief romance that culminated in her being pregnant in the middle of the school year.
Who Is Candice Cockerham?
Vernetta, who was 15 at the time, gave birth to Candice in Jonesville before returning to Paterson to wed Kevin, who was 18. Vernetta learned that Kevin was having an affair via Richard Ellerbee, the ex-boyfriend of Kevin’s sister. Vernetta divorced Kevin in gratitude to Richard, who was 13 years her senior and who had grown to be one of her closest confidants. After completing her education, she began a job with the Paterson Police Department’s records division. When Candice turned 6, the mother and son relocated to Jonesville, where she raised her daughter while working two jobs.
Richard, who had moved to Jonesville in 1993 in search of work, dated Vernetta, who was 24 at the time. Despite the fact that she had never wanted children after complications during the birth of Candice, she ended up becoming pregnant in 1995 and gave birth to Richard’s son Rashieq. Dominiq, their second son, was born in 2001, and in December of same year, Richard compelled her to get married to him against her will. By that time, Vernetta had begun to recognize Richard for the violent individual he really was.
Vernetta requested Richard’s arrest on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon on July 4, 2002, since she was experiencing daily domestic violence at home. But as soon as Richard was released on bail, the torture continued. Richard refused to stop despite her repeated complaints to the police, numerous detentions, and even the issuance of a restraining order. He persisted in stalking her, abusing her, and even breaking into her house to intimidate her. He left threatening notes and dug shallow graves all over her house.
Vernetta persisted in making complaints and abiding by the law, but Richard was never detained for very long. After months of harassment and violence, Richard beat Candice to death and stabbed Vernetta dangerously close to death on November 12, 2002. Three days later, he set himself ablaze.
Where is Vernetta Cockerham?
Vernetta’s injuries took a while to heal, but once they had, she was able to stand up and sue Jonesville and two police officers for wrongful death in November 2004. After 5 years of litigation, she finally settled with the municipal council in June 2009 and received $430,000 in compensation. “It took a long time, but for the individuals it will serve, the wait was well worth it,” she said. I love taking part in the current effort to strengthen laws against domestic abuse. The settlement implies to me being able to bring forth services and modifications in Yadkin county.
Through the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Vernetta is still fighting for victims of domestic violence. “What particularly impressed me about Vernetta is that she instantly jumped into advocacy mode, being a support to other victims and searching for the systemic holes and how we can remedy them,” the coalition’s executive director, Rita Anita Linger, said. Vernetta has pushed a bill through the Senate that calls for the prosecution of anyone who disobey restraining orders and continues to support those who have been the victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Legal Battle of Vernetta Cockerham
Vernetta Cockerham’s legal battle for justice over the horrifying murder of her daughter and a life-threatening assault by her ex-husband, tragedies that might have been avoided if domestic violence laws had been upheld, came to a conclusion with a monetary settlement on June 30th, 2009.
Vernetta Cockerham was not alone when she arrived at the Yadkin County Courthouse on June 29, 2009, to begin a trial in her five-year lawsuit against the town of Jonesville, North Carolina, and two of its police officers. A group of backers from advocacy organizations around the state had gathered behind her, filling the rows in the courtroom, to show strength and solidarity with her objective. Vernetta, who was seated quietly and with poise, was moved by the performance. She explains, “We had a little stand-in for justice.” “It was lovely.”
The unthinkable occurred in November 2002, which caused these things to occur: Her ex-husband Richard Ellerbee broke into her home, viciously beat, strangled, and suffocated her 17-year-old daughter Candice, and then narrowly avoided killing Vernetta by injuring her by inches (a long scar runs down her neck as evidence). In the month before the attack, she had done everything in her power to ensure that the protection order—also known as a restraining order—was upheld, including reporting his infractions to the neighborhood police. She claims that the police told her the night before the incident that he would be in jail since he should have been jailed for those crimes.
Vernetta’s injuries took a long time to recover from, both physically and psychologically, and over two years after that tragic day, she filed a wrongful death case against Jonesville and two police officers. Five years later, on June 30, 2009, the day before the lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial, a settlement was reached. After a jury pool was called on Monday, attorneys from both sides met to discuss jury selection at the end of the day but ended up reaching a compromise. The issue had been resolved, and Vernetta had received a payment of $430,000, the judge declared when the case was read in open court the following morning.
“I never went there with the intention of financially ruining the community or stealing millions of dollars. I started this case because I wanted to try to build a shelter for battered women, and I believe we initially put in for $10,000 “she claims. “For the people it will benefit, it took a long time, but it was well worth the wait. I love taking part in the current effort to strengthen laws against domestic abuse. The settlement implies for me to be able to bring forth services and reforms in Yadkin county.”
The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been the main vehicle for Vernetta’s activism and commitment. She is a committed volunteer, has spoken out frequently about her experience, and plans to be actively involved in as many capacities as she can. Rita Anita Linger, the executive director of the coalition, who was present in the courtroom on Monday and Tuesday, appreciates her efforts.
Of all, it’s impossible to place a price on what Vernetta has endured—the loss of her daughter, the severity of her wounds, and the changes her family has undergone. More significant than money, in Linger’s opinion, is the fact that justice has been done in some way. “On paper at least, the police department is not admitting any wrongdoing with the decision, but I believe the facts and result speak for themselves. One thing that particularly surprised me about Vernetta is that she instantly jumped into advocate mode, supporting other victims and searching for the systemic flaws and how we can remedy them. Anyone who looks at the exact circumstances of this case will find that the end outcome was long in coming.”
Her legal dispute directly contributed to one of these structural gaps. Despite granting her the opportunity to continue with the lawsuit when the North Carolina Court of Appeals heard it in 2006, they viewed one part of the legislation as a discretionary, rather than a required, requirement. The court believed the language used when it stated that someone who violated a protection order would be arrested was vague and didn’t require a police officer to initiate an arrest. With fresh information about the case this year, Representative Earline Parmon of the North Carolina General Assembly introduced House Bill 1464, which was passed on May 14 and is awaiting a vote in the state senate.
Parmon explains that the lawmakers, who were his fellow colleagues, “were genuinely taken back and startled that the court made that conclusion based on the terminology, so they were quite eager to assure the meaning would never again be misinterpreted.” “It was an extremely unfortunate situation that should never have happened, so I wanted to make sure that we finished it. The abuser should have been detained; nevertheless, despite numerous opportunities, the police chose not to do so.”
The senate voting timetable has moved the bill’s vote from earlier this month to later this month. Parmon, Linger, and Cockerham are all certain that the proposal will be approved and enacted. Vernetta wishes it could be given Candice’s name; Parmon thinks it would be acceptable and doable.
Who Is Harvey Kennedy?
Harvey Kennedy, one of Cockerham’s attorneys, saw Cockerham’s case and the new measure as a component of a broader movement to reform domestic violence legislation. “I believe that many more instances will succeed in the future, and the law is still evolving in this particular area,”
Vernetta wants to find new ways to assist, both large-scale (such constructing a family court close to Jonesville) and small-scale (counseling other victims). Linger believes there is no limit to the potential “I’ve been working on a state coalition for years, and I’m incredibly impressed with her. She is the epitome of a supporter of domestic abuse. She did everything correctly, but the most crucial thing was that she persisted.”