Docs: Man confessed to shooting neighbor who was snowblowing

CROCKERY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – A man accused of killing his Ottawa County neighbor confessed to the murder, saying he shot her in the back of her head while she was out snowblowing, according to court records.

Wendell Popejoy, 63, told deputies he killed Sheila Bonge, 59, on Dec. 26, the day after her family last heard from her.

In an interview with detectives, Popejoy said Bonge was “snow blowing the easement driveway out in front of his residence” on 104th Avenue.

“Wendell stated that he had made the decision when he saw Sheila to kill her,” according to an affidavit for Popejoy’s arrest.

“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.”

Ottawa County deputies found her body in the snowy woods behind their homes.

An autopsy at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids confirmed she was shot in the head, court records show.

Popejoy, who had no criminal record, is charged with felony murder and using a firearm in a felony. He is at the Ottawa County Jail without bond.

Bonge was last seen by her family on Christmas Eve and last talked to them by phone on Christmas Day.

The victim and suspect shared a private drive and lived right next door to each other off a quiet gravel road.

A friend of Bonge’s said that she had told him about a recent run-in with her neighbor over “snowplowing” and that she’d “been having a really difficult time with her neighbor.”

Neighbors in the area said Bonge often had run-ins with those who lived nearby.

Files obtained on Tuesday revealed disputes over property lines, and personal protection orders requested by neighbors against Bonge. Those orders, however, did not involve Popejoy.

Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies said they’d been to the area more than five times recently for disputes between neighbors, including one within the last month.

Bonge’s family earlier released a statement:

“Our mother Sheila lived a life filled with love. She adored her grandchildren and loved spending time with family. She filled her life with those she loved, and blessed their lives with her sweet, caring, fun and humorous personality. She will be deeply missed by her family and friends.”


Box office goes ‘Sonic’ again but hears ‘Call of the Wild’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The hedgehog edged the sled dog by a nose at the box office.

“Sonic: The Hedgehog” zoomed to the top of the box office with a take of $26.3 million in its second weekend while audiences ignored critics and heeded “The Call of the Wild” as the Harrison Ford CGI dog flick finished a close second with $24.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It was a strong weekend for both films, with each outperforming expectations and overcoming early doubts about design problems.

Paramount Pictures’ Sega video game adaptation “Sonic the Hedgehog” was a laughingstock when its first trailer was released last year, but after a delay and a title-character makeover, the film has now spent two weeks atop the box office and brought in over $200 million globally.

20th Century Studios’ “The Call of the Wild” was also mocked by many on social media for its CGI dog — the first five film adaptations of Jack London’s 1903 novel all used real ones — and reviews were decidedly mixed with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 62 percent, but moviegoers bought into the digital dog and his 77-year-old co-star, who would have won the weekend were it not for a late surge from “Sonic.”

“For ‘Call of the Wild’ heading into weekend the estimates were all over the place, as low as 10 million for the weekend, some saying it could do 15, maybe 20,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “So like ‘Sonic’ it over-performed.”

In a very distant third with $7 million was “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” in its third week.

The weekend’s other wide release, “Brahms: The Boy II” starring Katie Holmes, was fourth with just $5.9 million.

That was a disappointing opening at a time of year when horror films often do well. 2020 appears to be bucking that trend with family films thriving in the early weeks of the year.

“’Sonic’ and ‘Call of the Wild’ represent two PG-rated movies where that void in the marketplace for families is the key to their success in this part of the year, a time that’s usually dominated by awards holdovers and R-rated films,” Dergarabedian said.

And those family audiences may be why critics didn’t matter for the top two films.

“PG-rated films are more immune to reviews and are more about the audience. If a kid wants to go see a film, they’re going to go see it” he said.

Best picture winner “Parasite” continued its post-Oscars surge in a week where its victory was mocked at a rally by President Donald Trump, bringing in $3.2 million in North America, where it has earned nearly $50 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.

1. “Sonic the Hedgehog,” 26.3 million, ($38.3 million international).

2. “The Call of the Wild,” $24.8 million, (15.4 million international).

3. “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey,” $7 million, (10 million international).

4. “Brahms: The Boy II,” $5.9 million, ($2.2 million international).

5. “Bad Boys for Life,” $5.86 million, ($8.1 million international).

6. “1917,” $4.4 million, ($9.4 million international).

7. “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island,” $4.2 million, ($3.9 million international).

8. “Parasite,” $3.1 million, ($8.9 million international).

9. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $3 million, ($1.3 million international).

10. “The Photograph,” $2.8 million.