World

This man saw his neighbor snowblowing his driveway. So he shot her from behind, police say

Wendell Earl Popejoy, 63, (Photo – Ottawa Co. Sheriff’s Dept.)
Wendell Earl Popejoy, 63, (Photo – Ottawa Co. Sheriff’s Dept.)

The day after Christmas he saw his neighbor clearing the snow off his driveway.

He grabbed a gun, went outside, walked up behind her and shot her in the head, say authorities in Ottawa County, Mich.

Wendell Earl Popejoy, 63, has confessed to shooting Sheila Bonge, according to court records reviewed by MLive.com and other Michigan media outlets this week.

He is charged with open murder and using a firearm in commission of a felony.

“It is a unique situation. I can tell you that,” Capt. John Wolffis of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

Bonge, 59, was last seen by her family at her home in Crockery Township on Christmas Eve and family members had reported her missing, according to Fox 17 in Grand Rapids.

State and local authorities, and K-9 units, searched on and near her property and found her body on Dec. 28 in a wooded area on Popejoy’s property, Fox 17 reported.

“Wendell stated that he had made the decision when he saw Sheila to kill her,” Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office detective Ann Koster said during a hearing Sunday, according to a court transcript.

“He then grabbed a gun from his home. He went out to the easement where Sheila was blowing the snow. Wendell stated that he went up behind Sheila and shot her in the back of the head and disposed of her body behind his residence.”

Popejoy and Bonge lived next door to each other and reportedly shared a private driveway, but they weren’t exactly neighborly, according to friends and neighbors interviewed by WOOD.

One of their most recent disputes might have been about snowplowing, according to one of the victim’s friends who was stunned to hear Bonge’s body had been found in the snowy woods.

“What a miserable way to go, oh my God,” Raymond Vanier told WOOD.

He said Bonge was angry the week before she died, “something about snowing, or snowplowing, that the neighbor ran into her, and she’s been having a really difficult time with her neighbor.”

Neighbors who said Bonge had run-ins with people other than Popejoy showed reporters videos of her yelling obscenities and making crude gestures at them.

“Our department has responded to this location in the past on disputes, I can tell you that. There’s been some disputes reported among neighbors out here,” Wolffis told WOOD.

Bonge’s family released a statement to local media.

“We are deeply saddened by the fact that there is nothing we or anyone can do to bring our mother back,” the statement said.

“She was loved dearly by so many for her sweet and caring nature. She was selfishly and brutally taken from us far too soon. We have no other choice but to put our faith in the justice system.”

Popejoy, who reportedly has no prior criminal record, was arraigned on Tuesday, appearing in court on a video monitor, MLive.com reported. A district judge denied bail and he remains in the Ottawa County jail.

A large winter storm hit the Carolinas to Maine, dumping snow in areas that haven't seen it in decades. Thursday, some could also see freezing cold temperatures and strong winds. Blizzard warnings and states of emergency were in effect.

  Comments