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Tag Archive | "Kent County Sheriff’s Office"

Man pleads guilty in wife’s murder


By Judy Reed

James Michael Pagel, 55, pled guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the 2006 murder of his wife, Renee Beth 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.

Renee Pagel and her children. Photo from the Justice for Renee Pagel Facebook page.

It was almost 14 years that ago that 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 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.

Michael James Pagel

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 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.

A dual statement from Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker and Kent County Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young gave some details on the plea. “It is gratifying to see him finally accept some responsibility for her murder for which he has been a suspect since the very beginning,” it reads. “The children of Michael and Renee were consulted before considering a plea offer, and we decided on this course of action based on their response and approval. A trial involving their father in the murder of their mother would be extraordinarily difficult for this family. The ability to hold him accountable for his actions and save the kids from the trauma of such a trial played a major role in this decision.  In this agreement Mr. Pagel pled guilty to one count of second-degree murder with an agreement of a 25-year minimum sentence.  The judge will have the ability to set the maximum sentence.”

According to Prosecutor Becker, Pagel said he hired his brother to kill his wife, and that he provided a map and floorplan to allow him to do it. But authorities don’t yet know if he’s telling the truth.

“We were aware of the possibility that Michael Pagel may implicate others in the actual murder when he gave a factual basis for his plea. At this time, it is important to note that we are not aware of any independent evidence that can corroborate the statements Mr. Pagel made today. However, we have a duty to investigate his claims and will do so.  If Mr. Pagel wants to provide his version of events to the investigative team, they will listen to him, and follow up if he has any evidence to support his claim. This office and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department are committed to holding any person involved in Renee’s murder responsible for their actions. The statement of a defendant alone, with nothing more to support his version of events, is not enough by itself to charge anyone, with any crime.  Without any supporting evidence, it is merely a statement of a man perhaps trying to save face in admitting his guilt in the murder of his wife and should be treated as such.

“This office, with the Sheriff’s Department, has been committed to finding the truth since the beginning of the investigation. This commitment has not changed with this plea.  We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the detectives and crime scene techs at the Sheriff’s Department, the prosecutors assigned to the case, the Michigan State Police crime lab for their help, and especially Renee’s family for their strength and understanding though this entire process.  The investigation will continue and we will do everything we can to prove or disprove what Mr. Pagel stated here today. We want nothing more than to provide the truth of what happened to Renee, for her family and the community.” 

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Records services at Kent County Sheriff’s Office by appointment only


From the Kent County Sheriff’s Office

In an effort to reduce opportunities for community spread of COVID-19, we are limiting the number of services we will be providing at our main office. The north and south sub station offices will be closed until further notice. Effective 1:00 p.m. March 16 ALL services performed by our records division located at 701 Ball Ave NE will be by appointment only. You must call 616-632-6200 to speak to a records clerk prior to coming in. Additionally, until further notice, we will not be performing gun registrations or any fingerprinting services.

If you need police response, call 911 for emergencies or 616-632-6357 to speak to a dispatcher about a non-emergency response.

Thank you all so much for your understanding as we navigate this outbreak together.

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Three injured in crash



Three were injured in this crash at 13 Mile and Grange last Friday. Photos by L. Allen.

Three people were injured in a two-car crash in Algoma Township last Friday afternoon.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred at 3:55 p.m. on February 14, at 13 Mile and Grange. A 15-year-old driver’s education student was traveling southbound on Grange Ave NE and stopped for the stop sign at 13 Mile Rd NE. She thought she had enough time to cross over 13 Mile and was struck by a westbound car driven by a 43-year-old Sparta woman.

The at fault car was occupied by the 15-year-old driver, her 38-year-old father, and  her 8-year-old brother. Both drivers and the father had minor injuries. They were treated and released from local hospitals.

Algoma Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.

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Kent County approves new sheriff campus in Cedar Springs



The new North County Campus housing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Kent County Health Department will be built on land west of Taco Bell. Photo by L. Allen.

By Judy Reed

The Kent County Board of Commissioners gave the green light last week to the development of a new $12.5 million North County campus in Cedar Springs that will house both the Kent County Sheriff’s Office  and the Kent County Health Department. 

The new North County Campus will be built on 14 acres of county-owned property on 17 Mile Road NE, west of Taco Bell. The site’s conceptual master site plan includes a full-service sub-station for the Sheriff’s Office, a clinic for the Health Department, and additional space for other County services as needed. The County said this new shared facility will improve response times by the Sheriff’s Office and increase access to services in northern Kent County.

“By consolidating and upgrading our facilities and operations, we are focusing on the County’s quality of life and addressing long-awaited projects to better serve our residents now and into the future,” said Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt.

According to Sgt. Todd Probst, who supervises the Cedar Springs Sheriff’s Unit, the deputies who currently work out of Cedar Springs City Hall will move into the new building, along with officers and detectives who work out of the current north substation in Kent City. He sees it as a great advantage for the deputies and residents.

“Besides still being in the city of Cedar Springs, it will allow the dedicated city officers to collaborate directly with the north road patrol deputies, community policing officers, and detectives,” explained Sgt. Probst.  “Having the North Sub within the city will also bring additional officers coming and going from the city, which will give Cedar additional coverage for police related incidents.”  

The new North County Campus was one of three strategic capital improvement projects approved by Kent County, with all three totaling $18.7 million. The projects, meant to address the growing needs of Kent County residents, include: 

• $12.5 million for the development of a North County Campus,

• $2.68 million for a Parks Department office near Millenium Park, and

• $3.5 million for a 16,100 square-foot fleet facility on the county’s Fuller campus to repair and maintain the county’s more than 290 vehicles. When the original facility was built, they only serviced 35.

The funding for these projects was allocated from the County’s Capital Improvement Program Fund. The fund was established in 2015 to reserve funding for future capital needs and to reduce the size of debt associated with large capital projects.

“I am very proud we were able to address the needs of the community and offer better, more efficient services without the need to issue bonds,” said Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Mandy Bolter. “Our fiscal team has been very responsible with taxpayer dollars over the years so we could make that possible. These projects wisely invest taxpayer dollars in areas that will not only improve access to County services but prepare our infrastructure for the future.”

The Kent County Building Authority will assume project management responsibility for these initiatives. All projects are scheduled to immediately commence with architectural and engineering services and the projected timeline for the North County Campus is twenty-four months; fifteen months for the Parks Department office; and eighteen months for the fleet facility. Design renderings are currently unavailable for these projects.

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Solon fire frees man pinned in vehicle



A man was freed from this vehicle and treated for minor injuries after he hit a tree in Solon Township. Photo from Solon Fire Facebook page.

The crash occurred on 18 Mile Rd near Algoma. Photo from Solon Fire Facebook page.

Police suspect that alcohol was involved in a crash that occurred in Solon Township last weekend.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, it happened about 10:55 p.m. on Friday, January 24, on 18 Mile Rd near Algoma Ave NE. A 39-year-old man from Cedar Springs was traveling westbound on Algoma when the vehicle he was driving went off the roadway and struck a tree.

The man was pinned inside his car, and Solon Fire, with mutual aid from Cedar Springs Fire, extricated the man from the vehicle. He was then transported to Spectrum Hospital for treatment for some minor injuries. 

Police are waiting on lab tests before sending this to the prosecutor’s office for review.

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Police seek armed robbery suspect


By Judy Reed

A K9 was called in to track the suspect but did not find him. Post photo by J. Reed.
Kent County Sheriff’s Deputies staged at the back of the Chase Bank building so as not to destroy the suspect’s track for the K9. Post photo by J. Reed.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is searching for the suspect that robbed the Chase Bank in Cedar Springs Wednesday evening, October 16. 

The robbery occurred at the bank at 7 S. Main Street, shortly before 6 p.m. The suspect was armed with a handgun and fled the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of money. 

The suspect was described as dark-skinned, possibly African-American. Dispatch gave a description that said he could’ve been in his teens or early 20s.

A K9 was brought in, but they did not find the suspect.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 616-632-6125 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345. 

Chase Bank was also robbed in August 2015. 

Police release photos of suspect

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office has released surveillance photos of the suspect in the Chase Bank robbery that happened last week Wednesday, October 16, at 7 S. Main St. The suspect is described as dark-skinned, possibly African American. If you have any info, please contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 616-632-6125 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.


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Arrests made in gun thefts



Imperial Gunworx, in the Village of Sparta, was broken into early Sunday morning and 19 handguns were stolen. Photo from Woodtv.com.

Four people have been arrested in connection with gun thefts last Sunday in both Sparta and Kentwood.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, they assisted the Sparta Police Department on Sunday, July 14, at 3:33 a.m. at a breaking and entering at Imperial Gunworx, at 134 E. Division in the Village of Sparta. Four suspects forced entry into the store using concrete slabs and bricks to shatter the glass in the front door, and then shattered the glass in the display case. They stole 19 handguns.

Another gun store, Armory Valentine, in Kentwood, was also broken into the early morning hours of July 14. Police said that the four suspects, who appear to be the same ones as in the Sparta case, stole additional firearms including semi-automatic rifles.

On July 15, the Wyoming Police Department responded to a suspicious situation involving three suspicious males entering a house under construction. The three suspicious individuals were located by police. During the Wyoming Police Officers investigation, a backpack that had been observed on one of the suspicious individuals was found nearby with nine stolen Imperial Gunworx handguns inside.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) began investigating this case. Investigators were able to identify four juvenile suspects. Search warrants were executed at two different addresses in Kent County and additional stolen handguns and rifles were recovered.

One adult suspect is in Federal custody and his name will be released pending arraignment. Three juveniles have been arrested and lodged at Kent County Juvenile Detention Facility.

This case remains under investigation. The suspects involved in the Sparta and Kentwood breaking and entering cases are not suspected to be involved in two other recent gun theft cases: Barracks 616 in Cascade Township was burglarized last week Wednesday, and Long Range Archery and Firearms in Holland was also burglarized Sunday morning, July 14. 

If you have any information about any of the Gun Store theft cases, please call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 616-632-6357, Silent Observer at 616-774-2345, or the ATF.

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Community walk



On Wednesday, May 29, Mrs. Bellamy and Mr. Telman’s kindergarten classes went on a community walk. Their first stop was the police station where The Kent County Sheriff Department talked to the kids about safety and then let the kids explore their vehicles. The next stop was the Post Office, where the kids mailed a persuasive letter home to their parents. Next they enjoyed a quick snack on the way to the Fire Station, where they learned safety tips, explored equipment and vehicles and sprayed water from a firehouse! Then they visited the library where they learned about the summer reading program, and enjoyed a couple of stories along with some movement songs. Lastly, students and parent volunteers enjoyed pizza from Little Caesar’s at Morley Park. 

Students learned about safety from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. 

Thank you to our community for teaching our youngest students about safety and allowing them to experience real life heroes; ordinary people who serve and risk to keep others safe. These hands on experiences are invaluable and memorable.

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Woman killed in Courtland Twp crash


By Judy Reed

Three people were injured and a woman was killed in a crash in Courtland Township Monday.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred at the intersection of Tefft Ave and 13 Mile Road at about 6 p.m. Monday, April 22. Police said that Anne Van Dommelen, 68, of Rockford, was traveling south on Tefft in a 2016 Nissan Murano when she failed to stop at the stop sign at 13 Mile Rd and collided with a westbound 2006 Mercury Mountaineer driven by Bryan Russell, 44, of Cedar Springs. Traffic traveling on 13 Mile Rd does not stop at the intersection.

Anne Van Dommelen was pronounced dead at the scene.

Russell was transported to the hospital by ambulance with possible broken bones. His two passengers—Latrice Russell, 38, and Leland Russell, 9—also went to the hospital by ambulance with minor injuries.

 Assisting the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at the scene was Courtland Township Fire and Rescue, Rockford Ambulance, and Consumers Energy, due to a power pole being broken.

The crash is still under investigation.

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Snowmobiler drowns in Lincoln Lake



Joseph Brown died last Wednesday evening, February 13, when his snowmobile dropped into open water on Lincoln Lake. Photo from gofundme page.

An evening snowmobile ride on Lincoln Lake with a friend turned into tragedy when one of the riders drove into open water.

A 911 call came into Kent County Dispatch on February 13 at approximately 10:25 p.m. reporting a snowmobile accident on Lincoln Lake in Spencer Township. The caller reported he was on the lake on a snowmobile riding with another person who was on a separate snowmobile. The caller believed the other rider went into open water. 

Multiple fire departments along with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area immediately. The caller was on unstable ice and was rescued by Cannon Fire Department’s hovercraft. The hovercraft was then used to search for the missing rider. The Sheriff’s Office also deployed a drone with a Forward Looking Infrared Camera to search the lake. They were not able to locate the missing rider or his snowmobile after several hours and finally called off the search. 

The search resumed at daylight on February 14. Joseph Brown, 29, of Spencer Township, was found near the bottom of the lake, not far from where his friend was rescued.

Sgt. Joel Roon said that the recovery was challenging because the water was dark, cold, and very deep—about 50-60 feet. It was near where Cedar Creek flows into Lincoln Lake. “There’s a lot of moving water under there and it’s a recipe for dangerous conditions,” he said.

Roon said it looked like Brown made an effort to get to the ice shelf because they found some of his clothing. “We believe he tried some things ice fishermen would do like shed his shoes and bulky clothing.” He noted that it looked like he made it 15-20 feet before going under. 

Roon said the snowmobile probably would not be recovered right away. He said the DNR would get involved because of the fluids in the sled, and currently it was too dangerous to try to remove it.

A gofundme account has been set up to assist with funeral expenses. Go to https://bit.ly/2GV1Qzg to donate.

A benefit is also being held this Saturday, February 23, at 3 p.m. at the Trufant hall. Dinner $5 a plate, 50/50 raffle tickets, and a live auction. Live band High Risk will be playing as well. 

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