Wyoming man charged with Newaygo Co. murder

Jason Verhulst
Jason Verhulst in court for arraignment on Nov. 3, 2016.

LILLEY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Wyoming man is charged with murder in the shooting death of a Kentwood man in Newaygo County.

Jason Verhulst, 41, was arraigned Thursday afternoon on a first-degree murder charge in connection to the death of 55-year-old Timothy Shoemaker.

Officers from multiple departments were called to the shooting at a home in the 3900 block of W. Cleveland Drive near Bitely around 11 p.m. Wednesday. When they arrived, police found the body of Shoemaker. Officers said he suffered a gunshot wound to his head.

The home on W. Cleveland Drive near Bitely where a man was shot and killed. (Nov. 3, 2016)
The home on W. Cleveland Drive near Bitely where a man was shot and killed. (Nov. 3, 2016)

Verhulst’s first court appearance Thursday afternoon did nothing to shed any light on a motive. But a recorded statement reviewed by the judge before he issued an arrest warrant demonstrates Verhulst’s erratic behavior before, during and after the crime.

In the statement, Verhulst’s father, who owns the cottage where the shooting occurred, said Shoemaker came to the home to watch the Game 7 of the World Series. The elder Verhulst later went to bed.

He woke up to the sound of a gunshot and soon found his son standing next to the bed, naked except for a pair of boots. He reportedly told his father he had just shot Shoemaker and needed to get out of there. Instead, his father took the .22-caliber rifle his son was holding and called police.

Court records show after his arrest, Jason Verhulst admitted to detectives he shot Shoemaker in the back of the head but said he was not sure why he did it.

“Something just told him he had to do it,” a detective wrote in the statement.

Jason Verhulst
A Nov. 3, 2016 mug shot of Jason Verhulst. (Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department)

Verhulst’s criminal record shows that in February of 2008, he was arrested in Wyoming and charged with felony invasion of privacy and misdemeanor assault. He eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disturbing the peace.

Thursday, the judge made sure Verhulst will remain behind bars by denying him bond. He is due back in court Nov. 23 for a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to send the case to trial. If convicted of murder, he faces life in prison.