A Michigan man was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole for fatally shooting a neighbor while she was snowblowing on her property. The story is a strange one: Wendell Popejoy, 64, shot Sheila Bonge, 59, in the back of the head on the day after Christmas last year, then brought her snowblower back to her home, put her body on a sled, and pushed it down the hill behind his house. Testimony during his trial revealed a neighborhood rift involving Bonge, who allegedly would blow snow into Popejoy's driveway as well as another couple's driveway in what neighbors said was an attempt to goad them. Popejoy and Bonge shared a driveway easement, but Bonge believed her boyfriend owned the property used as an easement; she and Popejoy were reportedly arguing over the easement when he shot her.
"Me and Wendell lived in hell," his girlfriend told MLive after his sentencing. "We were caught between a nightmare that was horrible. ... There are two sides to every story." She says Bonge also used to yell at her neighbors and call them names, and that Popejoy simply snapped the day he shot her. (The Detroit News reported on the neighborhood animosity in January, telling stories including one 81-year-old's claim that Bonge once shouted at her, unprovoked, "I hope you fall down and break your hip.") But in a victim impact statement read in court Monday, her family denied that portrayal of the great-grandmother, WOODTV reports. "No matter how old we are, we need to have a mother to call. Her children no longer have her there," said Bonge's sister in the statement. "We will never see her smile or hear her laugh." (This fight between neighbors also turned fatal.)