Man charged in murder of Ottawa County neighbor

Wendell Popejoy
Wendell Popejoy appears in court via video feed for his arraignment in the death of Sheila Bonge.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man accused of killing his neighbor in Ottawa County is officially charged with murder.

During his video arraignment Tuesday, Wendell Popejoy only spoke to request a lawyer.

“Since I don’t know any lawyers, I’ll take your advice and wish you to appoint a lawyer for me, please,” Popejoy told the judge.

Popejoy 63, is charged with open murder in the death of 59-year-old Sheila Bonge, whom he shared a driveway with.

Bonge’s family was in Grand Haven District Court Tuesday to see the man they believe killed her.

Bonge was reported missing by her family on Wednesday, Dec. 27. They’d last talked to her by phone on Christmas Day.

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe Bonge was killed the day after Christmas, although her body wasn’t discovered until three days later in a wooded area behind her rural home, located in the 14000 block of 104th Avenue in Crockery Township.

Popejoy is also charged with using a firearm in the commission of a felony. In court Tuesday, the judge said Popejoy had a revolver, but did not say that Bonge was killed by gunshots.

While investigators have not yet released any details on a possible motive in the case, files obtained by 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday revealed disputes over property lines, and personal protection orders requested by neighbors against Bonge.

Those same neighbors say they have nothing but good things to report about the man accused of killing her.

Popejoy is a native of the Adrian area who lived on 104th Avenue for about eight years, according to his nephew. Popejoy has no criminal record other than a speeding ticket.

Bonge pleaded guilty to attempted delivery and manufacturing of marijuana in 2015 and paid $1,398 in fines and costs, but avoided time behind bars.

Popejoy was denied bond Tuesday and remains at the Ottawa County Jail.