Suspect charged with murder, torture in case of body found in Detroit dumpster

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A suspect is facing multiple charges including first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 27-year-old woman found in a Detroit dumpster. 

James Quill Cockerham, 50, was charged with first-degree murder, torture and unlawful imprisonment in the homicide of Elizabeth Candice-Nicole Laird.

On Wednesday, police were called to the Parkview Towers & Square apartment building in the 1600 block of Robert Bradby Drive for reports of blood in an elevator. Police discovered Laird's body in a dumpster behind the building, which is just northeast of Lafayette Street on Detroit's east side.

"Charged with count one homicide murder first degree premeditiated," said Magistrate Dawn White. "This is a felony with a penalty of life without parole."


According to the Wayne County Medical Examiner, Laird's cause of death was compressive asphyxia. 

Officials identified a suspect, James Cockerham, and released his name and image, asking for the public's help locating him. They confirmed through a continuing investigation Cockerham had been in contact with Laird, and they were seen together inside the building's elevator. 

"The evidence in this case shows that Ms. Laird was literally thrown away like garbage. Her life mattered, and we will work tirelessly to make sure that her alleged killer is brought to justice," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a release.

Cockerham is a registered sex offender and has been convicted of several crimes including weapons charges, criminal sexual conduct, car theft, and armed robbery.

He is expected to arraigned 1 p.m. Monday in 36th District Court before Magistrate Dawn White.