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Husband sentenced in wife’s murder

Husband sentenced in wife’s murder
Renee Pagel and her
three children.

Michael Pagel was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison

By Judy Reed

Michael James Pagel

Fourteen years and two months to the day Michael James Pagel murdered his wife, Renee Beth Pagel, he received what amounts to a life sentence: 25 years in prison, with a maximum of 50. 

Pagel pled guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year, after years of claiming he had nothing to do with it.

Renee was murdered in August 2006, in her Courtland Township home, while recovering from donating a kidney to the father of one of her students. She was estranged from Pagel, and they were going through a divorce and bitter custody battle for their three children—twins Sarah and Joel, 7, and Hannah, 3. The children were raised by Pagel after the murder, and now are grown.

Pagel apologized before the sentencing on Monday, Oct. 5, to their children and others before he was sentenced. 

He says he plotted Renee’s death but that his brother was the one that carried out the vicious attack on his wife. She reportedly had over 50 stab wounds to her head, face and torso, and her hands were mutilated defending herself from the attack.

Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Kellee Koncki said the Kent County Sheriff’s Office did not find any proof to back up Pagel’s claim that his brother was the killer.

A plea agreement called for Pagel to serve a minimum 25-year sentence. He won’t be eligible for parole until he is 80 years old.

It was August 5, 2006, that that the Kent County Sheriffs’ Office responded to 9050 13 Mile Road NE in Courtland Township on a report of a deceased person. 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 examiner’s 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.

The case was turned over to a cold case review team in Lansing in the fall of 2018. The review team made up of Michigan prosecutors who 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 Pagel, 55, with the murder of his estranged wife. With the assistance of the Michigan State Police, Michael Pagel was taken into custody in the Bay City area in February 2020 and transported back to Kent County to face charges related to the murder of his wife.

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