Elizabeth "Candy" Laird disappeared on Wednesday, three days before a registered sex offender was arrested on suspicion of her alleged murder

By Jeff Truesdell
May 20, 2019 03:27 PM
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Elizabeth Candice Laird
Credit: Go Fund Me

Elizabeth Candice Laird, known as “Candy” by those closest to her, envisioned a life of helping others before her own life was taken.

The 27-year-old Detroit woman was weeks away from completing her degree as a surgical technician, and dreamed of becoming a nurse, when her body was discovered at about 9 a.m. Wednesday in a dumpster after police were called to the scene by someone who reported blood in an elevator at a nearby apartment building, reports local TV station WXYZ.

“She didn’t deserve this,” her mother, Diana Cann, told the outlet.

“My daughter was bright,” she said. “She was intelligent. She always wanted to be someone special in life.”

The victim’s older brother, Curtis, told the news station: “It’s the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m broken up in a million pieces.”

Detroit police Chief James Craig described suspect James Quill Cockerham as “a career criminal” in a news conference following Cockerham’s arrest on Saturday.

“That violent, predatory, cowardly suspect is now in custody,” he said.

Police were alerted on Wednesday to reports of blood in the elevator at the Parkview Towers and Square apartment building, and later said Laird and Cockerham had been seen together inside an elevator in the building, reports WDIV.

The victim’s family said she had been there at the gated building visiting her boyfriend. It was not clear how Cockerman gained entry.

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The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office listed Laird’s manner of death as compressive asphyxia and ruled it a homicide, according to Fox2Detroit.

Prior convictions for Cockerham include those for weapons charges, criminal sexual conduct, armed robbery and car theft, and he is a registered sex offender, according to court records.

He was being held Monday morning in the Detroit Detention Center awaiting formal charges after his arrest on suspicion of parole violation and murder, a jail spokesman tells PEOPLE.

No bond was listed, and it could not be determined if he had entered a plea or acquired an attorney who might speak on his behalf.

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“He should have never been let out,” said Laird’s brother Curtis, reports WXYZ.

“Looking at my baby in a casket — I think that’s going to be the hardest thing in my life that I’ll ever have to do,” Laird’s mother told the outlet. She recalled her daughter as someone who “wanted to save lives.”

A family friend, Michael Hines, said: “She was a great young lady, and I loved her,” according to Fox2Detroit. “She had a bright future. She was going to school to be in the nursing field. She told me she was going to make something of herself.”

“You shouldn’t kill no one like that — like throwing away garbage,” he said.

The police chief said: “We pray for that young lady and it should have never happened.”