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Arrest made in Pagel murder

It’s taken more than a decade, but it looks like there may finally be justice for Renee Pagel. She was brutally murdered in August 2006, in her Courtland Township home, while recovering from donating a kidney to the father of one of her students.  A news conference was held in the cold case on Thursday afternoon, February 6, that revealed that police have arrested her husband, Michael Pagel, and have charged him with her murder.

Renee Pagel and her children in an undated photograph. The children were ages 3 and 8 when she was killed. Photo from the Justice for Renee Pagel Facebook page.

More than 13 years ago the Kent County Sheriffs Office responded to 9050 13 Mile Road NE in Courtland Township on a report of a deceased person. On August 5, 2006 first responders located Renee Beth Pagel deceased with obvious trauma to her body. There were no signs of forced entry into the home and valuables in plain sight were left behind. The medical examiners office completed an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives learned Renee Pagel was nearing the end of a contentious divorce with her estranged husband Michael Pagel.  Following Renee’s death, the initial investigation had run its course with no charges filed and was eventually classified as a cold case. The couple’s three children went to live with their father.

Through the years, the KCSO alongside the Kent County Prosecutor’s office continued to allocate resources to this case, which included a joint presentation of the Pagel investigation to a cold case review team in Lansing in the fall of 2018. The review team made up of Michigan prosecutors looked at the case file for the purpose of providing feedback on possible investigative leads that might help the investigation.

Recent interviews and investigations provided valuable evidence that resulted in the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office charging Michael James Pagel, 55, with the murder of his estranged wife in 2006. With the assistance of the Michigan State Police, Michael Pagel was taken into custody in the Bay City area and transported back to Kent County to face charges related to the murder of his wife.

Michael James Pagel

Michael James Pagel was arraigned on Thursday, February 6, in 63rd District Court and charged with first degree premeditated murder. His bond was set at $2 million cash or surety. He is currently in custody at the Kent County Jail.

“Justice for Renee wouldn’t be possible without the countless prayers and unending advocacy by her friends and family,” said a spokesperson in a news release from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. “We would also like to commend the hard work and dedication of those who never gave up on this investigation and who are responsible for taking the case to this point. Those people include Lt. EJ Johnsogn, Lt. Jack Smith (Ret.), Sgt. Randy Kieft, Captain Mark Fletcher (Ret.), Detective Sgt. Bill Marks, Prosecutor Kellee Koncki, Prosecutor Dan Helmer Prosecutor Chris Becker, and many more.”

The Post will update this story as we learn more.

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