63-year-old man in custody for murder of Ottawa County woman

Photo of Wendell Earl Popejoy provided by the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.
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Wendell Popejoy, 63, is in custody for the murder of Sheila Bonge.

The 59-year-old woman was found dead in a wooded area near her home in Ottawa County on Thursday, Dec. 28.

Through state and county police records WZZM 13 was able to confirm Popejoy was taken into custody for an open murder charge. 

Popejoy was Bonge's neighbor and they both lived on 104th Avenue in Crockery Township. Family members reported Bonge missing earlier this week when and told police  they hadn't heard from her since before Christmas.

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Popejoy's house is just yards away from Bonge's home. The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office said it was a search and rescue team that discovered Bonge's body. 

Authorities would not give the cause of death, but said as the investigation continued it was very apparent it was a homicide. Police said they wouldn't identify the suspect until he was arraigned, but did said there were some issues between neighbors. 

"Our department has responded to this location in the past on disputes," Captain John Wolffis, with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office said. "There has been some disputes reported between neighbors out here in the past." 

Captain Wolffis said they responded to the area for disputes at least five times, most recently within the past month. A neighbor said Bonge lived in the area for the last eight to ten years.

We did reach out to friends and relatives of Bonge, one family friend described her as a sweet lady who was always there when you needed her. 

Popejoy was arrested on Friday, Dec. 29, and his arraignment is expected to be on Saturday. According to state records, he's facing a felony homicide charge.

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