Ottawa County man suspected of killing his neighbor appears in court

Sheila Bonge was killed on Thursday, Dec. 28.

GRAND HAVEN, MICH. - Bond was denied on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 2 for a man suspected of killing his neighbor last week. 63-year-old Wendell Popejoy is facing an open murder charge for the death of 59-year-old Sheila Bonge.

Bonge was reported missing early last week, and days later, authorities found her body in a wooded area behind her home. 

"I lost a good friend; she was like a big sister," Guy McDonnell, Bonge's friend of five years said. "I'm just going to miss her all around."

On Thursday police discovered Bonge's body behind her home. Police tell WZZM 13 it was evident it was a homicide. On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Wendell Popejoy was arraigned via video on one count of open murder and one count of felony firearm. 

"It says you did carry a firearm in your possession, namely a revolver, at the time you committed or attempted to commit a felony, namely open murder," 58th District Court Judge Craig Bunce told Popejoy on Tuesday. 

Little information is known about the relationship between Bonge and Popejoy, but McDonnell confirmed Bonge had ongoing disputes with a couple of her neighbors. 

"She really didn't bother anyone unless she was being pushed and she was pushed," he said.  

Court documents show a neighbor, not Wendell Popejoy, requested a Personal Protection Order  against Bonge and her fiance, who owns the home she lived in. But, that PPO was not granted.  A suit indicates the disagreement was regarding an easement and Bonge's use of it. While that case appears to be ongoing, there were no cases between Popejoy and Bonge. 

Last week Ottawa County authorities did confirm they responded to this area at least five times before.

"There has been some disputes reported between neighbors out here in the past," Captain John Wolffis said on Friday, Dec. 29.  

All of this makes McDonnell wish more was done back then.

"It could have been prevented. Very easily it could have been prevented," he said.  

Popejoy asked for an attorney to be appointed to him, and he's expected to be back in court later this month.

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