Mother turns spot near where son's body was found into peaceful site for others

It's been more than three years since a man was murdered in cold blood and his body was found weeks later inside a Detroit storm drain but his mother has never stopped working to keep his memory alive.

A lot located at the corner of Fenkell and Cheyenne that was once full of dirt is now sprouting green grass as it sits, decorated by rocks and several trees. It a tribute to Brenda Burton's son Osean Lockett who was found murdered near the green space in September of 2015.

"Me and my sons uncovered the sewer top after getting knowledge of a Facebook post that that's where he was," Brenda said.

Detroit woman loses appeal over Facebook post about dead son in sewer

This week, Brenda received word from the Michigan Appeals Court that she failed to persuade the court to reinstate her lawsuit over the Facebook post. 

Burton sued Detroit and a water department employee who was accused of writing on Facebook that he had found a "dead body in the sewer" in September 2015. Burton says she went to the site and saw her son under the manhole cover.

Burton says the water employee acted recklessly when he made the Facebook post before police could remove the body. She says she suffered emotional distress.

The court cited it may have been thoughtless but it wasn't intolerable in a civilized community. 

Authorities had been looking for Lockett since he went missing in July 2015. Police said he was found with multiple gunshot wounds. Lockett was 19 when he died.

In the spring of 2016 a man named Michael Ferguson agreed to a plea deal for gun possession charges and to serve two years in prison and two years' probation in connection with Lockett's death - a sentence that brought little peace and justice to the grieving mother. 

"It's still not about the Facebook (post). It's about justice and I feel unjustified right now as far as my son goes," Brenda said.

That's why this mom says she was determined to turn her pain into something positive.

"I've turned it into a greenery park and it's called Ham's Place, which was my son's nickname because he was really fat when he was little," she said.

Brenda says she leases the land from the Land Bank. The rock she placed in the center represents Osean and every summer, this mom uses this green space to inspire others in the community where her son's body was located.

"We do an annual picnics, the second Saturday every June. Everything is free on me," she said. "In July, I release doves, the age of my son. I BBQ for the neighborhood and I let off a few fireworks. ... In August, I also do a back to school rally for the neighborhood, everything free on me."

Realizing others are hurting after losing children to violence, Brenda also found a way to reach out to grieving moms via a nonprofit called HAM, Horrors Against Mothers. Brenda says she will seek to move her lawsuit to the State Supreme Court, but for now she just hopes that she can just give others peace.

"God is so good to me that he gives me the strength to take what someone meant for bad and turn it into good," she said.