We’ve spent a lot of time discussing how the absurdly incestuous nature of the Kane County Judicial Center, and the judges and attorneys who ply their trade in that building, can subvert justice. But even if those ill-advised extracurricular relationships don’t directly damage court cases, when they go wrong, those gravitational waves ripple throughout the entire system, affecting the people attached to those officers of the court and the people who turn to it for relief.
Though this story is common knowledge at the courthouse, I wrestled with whether to put it out there. But when you consider that four people are dead due to the bad choices of three individuals, the truth really needs to come out. Not only that, but so much of the rank speculation around this multilayered tragedy is so off-base, setting the record straight played a role in my decision to set it straight.
I’m sure you recall that, last March, St. Charles resident Randy Coffland murdered his two teenage daughters, wounded his wife Anjum, and subsequently shot himself in the head. At the time he shot her, he told his wife, “I want you to suffer like I did.”
On February 4, 2017, Michael Clancy, 57, a fourth generation Kane County attorney and brother of Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a DuPage County forest preserve.
These stories are connected.
The Cofflands moved from Oswego to St. Charles in 2015 because Anjum was having an affair and Randy wanted to put some distance between his family and the man involved.
In 2013, Anjum hired Wayne, Illinois, attorney Michael Clancy to file a medical malpractice suit against Rush Copley Hospital. That case is still winding its way through the system.
Sometime after they moved to St. Charles, Anjum and Clancy began having an affair. When Randy found out, he went directly to Clancy’s wife and filed a complaint with the Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission.
Faced with possible divorce, potential disbarment and all the baggage that goes along with those two scenarios, Clancy took his life. He left behind a wife, three siblings, his parents, a slew of friends, clients and a number of rescue animals.
As a result of Anjum’s affairs, Randy spiraled deeper and deeper into depression. He began abusing anti-depressants to the point where he told his family he was going to kill his daughters and himself. Thankfully, he sought help and managed to kick the drugs. By all accounts, his life seemed to be improving.
But after a Feb 8 domestic incident in which Randy smashed Anjum’s cell phone during a heated debate, she moved out leaving her daughters behind. Randy found an old bottle of anti-depressants and began self-medicating again.
It’s important to note that Randy Coffland had no prior domestic violence record.
Was that confrontation over yet another one of Anjum’s affairs? According to my sources, it was. But rather than simply take his daughters and walk away, Randy tried to reconcile with Anjum, who’d already decided to move on.
We all know how that story ended.
Did Michael Clancy set this entire series of events in motion? No! Did he contribute to it? Absolutely! Could Randy Coffland’s antidepressant use be a factor in this cowardly murder suicide? Yes! Could his wife’s affairs and the impending family breakup have exacerbated his depression? Yes!
Some people are more fragile than others.
Could Randy Coffland have murdered his daughters without Michael Clancy’s involvement? Absolutely! But there’s no doubt his involvement led to his own death.
One of my former managing editors recently challenged me to quantify the damage these Judicial Center affairs do to the system, but it can’t be done because life never distills itself down to a simple mathematical equation.
What I can say is, there are two dead children, two dead husbands, and their friends and families will never be the same. Don’t tell me this tragedy isn’t going to affect Chief Judge Boles’ decisions going forward, either. How could it not?
Let me be clear that the sins of the brother should never fall upon the shoulders of the sister, and I’m not excusing anyone for any act of violence against themselves or others. I’m simply trying to explain the series of events that set four deaths in motion.
Michael Clancy should’ve stuck around and faced the music. People have come back from much worse circumstances. Randy Coffland should have taken his daughters and moved far away. I can’t comprehend what would move someone to murder his own children just to make his wife suffer. C’mon! People have affairs all the time and most marriages end in divorce.
But now we know exactly what he meant when he said he wanted his wife to suffer like he did.
Prior to murdering his daughters, Randy Coffland changed his life insurance beneficiaries to his brother and a friend. Of course, Anjum Coffland is desperately trying to collect on that $750,000 policy.