Where is Candice Cockerham’s Mom Vernetta Cockerham 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.
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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 could not 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 Marie, a lesson that stuck with her so profoundly 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 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.
Vernetta, who was 15 then, gave birth to Candice in Jonesville before returning to Paterson to wed Kevin, who was 18. Vernetta learned that Kevin was having an affair with 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. Although 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 the 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 Now?
Vernetta’s injuries took a while to heal, but once they had, she could 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 participating in the current effort to strengthen laws against domestic abuse. The settlement implies that 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 really impressed me about Vernetta is that she immediately went into advocacy mode, being a support to other victims and looking for the systemic gaps and how we can fix 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 disobeys restraining orders and continues to support those who have been the victims of sexual and domestic violence.
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