Wendell Earl Popejoy Jr., 14915 104th Ave., is housed in the Ottawa County Jail without bond.
Popejoy, 63, is charged with killing his next-door neighbor, 59-year-old Sheila Bonge, who lived at 14961 104th Ave. He was arraigned Tuesday in Ottawa County District Court on open murder and felony firearm charges.
Popejoy’s next court hearing is a probable cause conference on Jan. 10. This is a meeting between the defense and prosecution to determine whether or not a preliminary examination will be held.
The court document obtained by the Tribune is a transcript of a conference before Ottawa County District Judge Susan Jonas on Sunday, where information was presented to determine whether or not there is probable cause that a crime was committed. Jonas determined, after the conference, that there was probable cause for each charge and denied Popejoy bond.
During the conference, detectives testified that they interviewed Popejoy at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. During the interview, Popejoy said he saw Bonge outside his residence on Dec. 26, 2017. She was blowing snow from the easement driveway in front of Popejoy’s home.
“Wendell stated that he had made the decision when he saw Sheila to kill her,” Sheriff’s Office Detective Ann Koster said at Sunday’s hearing, according to the 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 was sent to the Ottawa County Jail after the interview.
Police responded to Bonge’s home last week after her family reported their mother was missing. The family had last talked to her on Christmas Day, according to the court document. A search was conducted in her home and around her property, but Bonge was not located.
Police returned the next day to interview the family and continue the search. K-9 units from the Michigan State Police and Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Ottawa County Search and Rescue Team, assisted in the search.
Bonge’s body was found Dec. 28 in the snow behind Popejoy’s house.
Other court documents show a neighbor, not Wendell Popejoy, requested a personal protection order (PPO) against Bonge and her fiance. However, the PPO was not granted. A law suit indicates the disagreement was regarding Bonge's use of an easement. While that case appears to be ongoing, there were no cases between Popejoy and Bonge.
Last week, Ottawa County authorities confirmed that they had responded to this area at least five times in the past.
WZZM-TV contributed to this story.