Sheila Bonge was gunned down by crazed neighbor Wendell Popejoy two years ago as she used a snowblower to clear the driveway easement of her mobile home. Sheila Bonge’s murder makes the latest cut for the crime television show Fear Thy Neighbor. In the episode titled “Games of Homes,” the victim’s sister, and former neighbor Beth Meurer will recount the details leading up to Sheila’s disturbing end. Wendell Earl Popejoy is serving a life sentence with no chance for parole.
Fear Thy Neighbor episode “Games of Homes” on Investigation Discovery Channel
New neighbors move into a quiet area and disrupt years of harmony between residents. When the winter storm blows in, things become heated, leading to a bitterly cold end.
Sunday, December 24–Christmas Eve: Sheila Bonge Missing 2017
Sheila Bonge, age 59, was last seen by family members at her house. She lived of a gravel road near a cattle farm at 14961 104th Avenue in Coopersville, Michigan. Detectives say she also spoke to someone by phone that afternoon. Shortly thereafter, she vanished into thin air.
For two days, the family worried about her well-being. Detectives learned Sheila Bonge had been engaged in an ongoing feud with her neighbors—Wendell Popejoy and Mark and Beth Meurer—over a property easement that she felt belonged to her. Mark and Beth Meurer sued her. Wendell Popejoy planned to kill her, according to MLive.
“Bonge would holler and curse his client. She called him fat and stupid. No one wanted to go outside or incur her wrath, Kortes said. Popejoy and his girlfriend shared an easement to their driveways with Bonje and her boyfriend and another couple, Beth and Mark Meurer. The Meurers were suing Bonje over the easement, which she claimed as hers.”
For eight miserable years, Sheila Bonge battled with neighbors. She didn’t want them on the property, and she angered Wendell Popejoy on purpose by constantly using a snowblower to clear her driveway while letting the dirty snow land on his property.
December 28-29: Police Search The Snowy Woods For Missing Neighbor Sheila Bonge
On Thursday, December 28, police sought help from the media and alerted the public that Sheila Bonge, a woman who weighed 115 and stood 5ft 3 inches tall, was missing. Despite extremely cold weather conditions, they searched the area surrounding Sheila Bonge’s home. They found her naked body hidden under the snow in a frozen wooded area far behind Wendell Popejoy’s house.
Knowing he wouldn’t get away with murder, Wendell Popejoy finally confessed to killing Sheila Bonge. In his confession, he admitted that on Tuesday, December 26, he heard the dull drone of the snowblower and got his gun.
In a cold-blooded manner, Wendell Popejoy stood between two pines and aimed at the back of Sheila Bonge’s head. With Popejoy behind her, Sheila, who was wearing a thick hood, never saw what was coming, and she didn’t hear her killer approaching because the sound of the blower masked his footsteps.
After Bonge dropped dead, Wendell Popejoy stripped off her clothing, placed the corpse on a sled, and pushed it down the hill and left it where it was eventually discovered, according to Detroit News. Following the murder, Popejoy got rid of the gun by tossing it from the Grand River Bridge.
At first, police classified her death as suspicious. It was later upgraded to murder once coroners discovered the shotgun blast to the back of her head. Wendell Popejoy was placed in custody and charged with murder. Next, he was found guilty in her shooting death.
One Nasty Neighbor
Former neighbors say Sheila Bonge was a nasty bully, who verbally abused people. Most agreed it was wrong to kill her. Though among them the talk was—they hoped she’d die of natural causes. They say Wendell Pope snapped and was driven to end years of misery. Sheila Bonge’s fiance, Wayne Homan, a trucker who was away most of the time, said he now wishes he would have stayed home more. He said Sheila only argued with the neighbors after they “riled” her up and harassed her.
Prosecutors think the heartless killing was planned for some time. Wendell Popejoy’s own words sum it up best, the Grand Haven Tribune reported.
“I already admitted my deed. I just wanted to take care of the problem. () I guess it was a cold act.() I’m not really sorry she’s gone.”
Today, Wendell Earl Popejoy is serving time at the St. Louis Correctional Facility in St. Louis, Michigan. Sheila Bonge’s Facebook page is still up. He obituary states she had six children and six grandchildren. Watch Fear Thy Neighbor: Games of Homes tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on the ID Channel.
[Main image via Facebook & Michigan Dept. of Corrections]