Michigan man murders neighbor for 'blowing snow onto his property', gets life term

64-year-old Wendell Popejoy told investigators that he "took care of the problem" and that he's "not sorry she's gone."


                            Michigan man murders neighbor for 'blowing snow onto his property', gets life term

A Western Michigan man was sentenced to life imprisonment this past week after he was previously found guilty of first-degree murder over a trivial dispute. The 64-year-old, identified as Wendell Earl Popejoy, was handed out the sentencing over the killing of his 59-year-old neighbor Sheila Kay-Luke Bonge, whom he had accused of purposely blowing snow onto his property.

WWJ News Radio reported that Bonge was murdered on Boxing Day 2017 outside her home on the 104th Avenue in Crockery Township, Northwest of Grand Rapids, when she was using a snowblower on an easement that she and her neighbors used to get onto their driveways.

Bonge was killed because she repeatedly blew snow onto a neighbor's property (Source: Ottawa County Sheriff's Department)
Bonge was killed because she repeatedly blew snow onto a neighbor's property (Source: Ottawa County Sheriff's Department)

It was alleged that while Bonge was using the snowblower, Popejoy snuck up behind her and shot her from point-blank range in the back of the head. The 59-year-old's body was later found hidden beneath the snow down a hill behind Popejoy's house by family members who had grown concerned over her sudden absence.

When confronted, Popejoy denied killing his neighbor initially but later confessed to detectives that shooting was a "snap decision" and that Bonge was a "nuisance to the neighborhood". He is also said to have told them that he "took care of the problem" and that he's "not really sorry she's gone".

The full extent of the story came out in front of the Ottawa County Circuit Court jury, where Popejoy's lawyer Jeff Kortes made it seem as though his client had only snapped after years of putting up with Bonge's antics.

"Every time for the eight years Wendell lived in that home, she would intentionally crank the snowblower to close (Popejoy's) driveway," he said, according to MLive.

"This is after years of the same type of antagonistic behavior that he finally snapped," he continued. "He finally had enough. That day was the breaking point," adding how, soon after, Popejoy realized, "My God, I shot her."

Popejoy was sentenced to life imprisonment (Source: Ottawa County Sheriff's Department)
Popejoy was sentenced to life imprisonment (Source: Ottawa County Sheriff's Department)

But it wasn't just the fact that he shot her that would result in his life imprisonment sentence. Ottawa County Prosecutor Ronald Frantz said the murder was "cold-blooded" and "cowardly" and pointed out to the court that Popejoy had gone to extreme lengths to cover up the fact that he had killed his 59-year-old neighbor.

It was heard that Popejoy puked and panicked after killing Bonge and put her body on a camouflage sled used for carrying animals so he could transport it and hide it. He proceeded to remove her clothes and burned them in a barrel before then breaking down the .22-caliber revolver he had used to kill her and throwing it into the Grand River.

Kortes reiterated in court during his client's sentencing that the killing was not premeditated. He brought up a pre-sentence statement by Popejoy where the 64-year-old had said he was in a "dreamlike trance" at the time of the shooting and "woke up in a nightmare of panic after the gunshot".

Popejoy will be spending the rest of his life in prison with the ruling.