DETROIT (WXYZ) — 27-year-old Elizabeth Candice Laird, or "Candy" to loved ones, was weeks away from graduating with a degree to become a surgical tech. According to her mother, she had dreams of becoming a nurse.
Wednesday, Laird's body was found in a dumpster on Detroit's east side. Three days later, Detroit police arrested her suspected killer, James Cockerham.
“She didn’t deserve this," Laird's mother Diana Cann told 7 Action News.
Police don't believe Laird knew Cockerham. According to investigators, Cockerham first attacked her in the elevator at the Parkview Apartments.
Laird's family said she was there visiting her boyfriend. It's unclear how Cockerham gained access to the building, which is gated.
"My daughter was bright. She was intelligent. She always wanted to be someone special in life," Cann said.
Laird was someone who cherished family, loved to laugh, and "wanted to save lives," according to Cann.
Laird's older brother Curtis had mixed emotions when learning of Cockerham's arrest.
"Joy of tears, confused, and not really knowing how to celebrate his capture," he said.
Cockerham had previously served time for rape.
“He should have never been let out," Curtis said.
He said he and Laird had a father-daughter relationship, and shared a very close bond.
“It’s the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m broken up in a million pieces.”
The family has started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs.
“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," Diana Cann said.
Cockerham is at the Detroit Detention Center awaiting arraignment.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig called Cockerham "a career criminal."
Chief Craig said this case is not gang-related, or linked to any other homicides.