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posted: 12/27/2017 7:30 AM

Notable and notorious cases from 2017 in Fox Valley

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The Fox Valley had a wide range of dramatic court trials and tragic, senseless and even silly crimes in 2017. Here's a sample of some of the notable -- and notorious -- cases from the past year.

St. Charles twins killed by father

Students from St. Charles East High School arrive after the school day is over at a memorial for murdered St. Charles twins Tiffany and Brittany Coffland in March.
  Students from St. Charles East High School arrive after the school day is over at a memorial for murdered St. Charles twins Tiffany and Brittany Coffland in March. - Rick West | Staff Photographer

St. Charles East High School twins Brittany and Tiffany Coffland were shot and killed by their father, Randy Coffland, who wounded his estranged wife, Anjum, in her St. Charles townhouse before turning the gun on himself in March. Coffland, who had suffered from depression, tried therapy but eventually shut down, bought a gun and removed his children from his $750,000 insurance policy. Anjum is now fighting in court to have that change undone.

Texas man sentenced for killing grandmother

Richard Schmelzer, right, shown in his December 2016 trial, was sentenced in spring 2017 to 45 years in prison for the murder of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, at her home in East Dundee for part of her inheritance.
  Richard Schmelzer, right, shown in his December 2016 trial, was sentenced in spring 2017 to 45 years in prison for the murder of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, at her home in East Dundee for part of her inheritance. - Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Richard Schmelzer was sentenced to 45 years in prison in March for the July 2014 slaying of his grandmother, Mildred "Dodie" Darrington, 85, in her East Dundee home for a part of her inheritance. In a lengthy trial, prosecutors showed how Schmelzer, 45, whose home was in foreclosure as he paid for $400-per-hour escorts, plotted her murder and drove from Frisco, Texas, to Illinois and back to "assassinate" her as she slept in her own bed.

Burlington man acquitted in father's 2016 death

Daniel Rak was acquitted of murdering his father in Burlington Township in February 2016.
Daniel Rak was acquitted of murdering his father in Burlington Township in February 2016. -

After an emotional jury trial in July, Daniel Rak was acquitted of first-degree murder charges in the Feb. 14, 2016, death of his alcoholic father, Jeffrey, 58, in his Burlington Township home. The younger Rak, 32, however, was convicted of throwing a vodka bottle at his dad during an argument and was sentenced to four years of probation for aggravated domestic battery. He has appealed the domestic battery conviction. Prosecutors had argued Rak caused a brain bleed on his father that killed him.

Double murder in Crystal Lake

Ryan Yarber, 31, of Crystal Lake, faces life in prison if convicted of an August double murder.
Ryan Yarber, 31, of Crystal Lake, faces life in prison if convicted of an August double murder.

Ryan C. Yarber, 31, was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, Alliana, and a 15-year-old girl, whose bodies were found inside the Yarber's Crystal Lake home on the 100 block of Marian Parkway in early August. Yarber is being held on $5 million bail while he awaits trial and he is next due in court on Jan. 5. If convicted, he faces life in prison with no chance of parole.

Geneva woman guilty, mentally ill in husband's poisoning

Julia Gutierrez of Geneva, shown in Kane County court in early 2016, pleaded guilty but mentally ill and was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the fatal poisoning of her husband, Eduardo Gutierrez.
Julia Gutierrez of Geneva, shown in Kane County court in early 2016, pleaded guilty but mentally ill and was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the fatal poisoning of her husband, Eduardo Gutierrez. - Sandy Bressner/Kane County Chronicle pool photo

Julia Gutierrez pleaded guilty but mentally ill in April in the fatal poisoning of her husband, Eduardo, 53, in February 2016. Gutierrez, 55, was sentenced to 22 years in prison, where she will have greater access to mental health services. Eduardo's family is fighting in court for the couple's estate, which includes a home on Crissey Avenue.

Elgin man charged with dismembering mother

Divers in late October discovered two duffel bags containing human remains of Gail R. Peck in the Lincoln Park Lagoon in Chicago. Prosecutors have charged her son, Brian Peck, 55, of killing her and dismembering her body in Elgin.
Divers in late October discovered two duffel bags containing human remains of Gail R. Peck in the Lincoln Park Lagoon in Chicago. Prosecutors have charged her son, Brian Peck, 55, of killing her and dismembering her body in Elgin. - COURTESY OF ABC 7 CHICAGO

Brian Peck, 55, was charged with murdering and later dismembering his mother, Gail Peck, 76. Peck reported his mother missing in late October after she supposedly went to walk the dog, but a day later fishermen found a duffel bag containing body parts and a handsaw in a rowing lagoon in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Cook County prosecutors said the killing stemmed over an argument over Brian Peck's music and he worked extensively to clean an Elgin home they shared of blood and DNA.

Man goes 143 on motorcycle and films it

Brian A. Bianco, of St. Charles, faces multiple charges stemming from a video posted on YouTube of several high-speed chases.
Brian A. Bianco, of St. Charles, faces multiple charges stemming from a video posted on YouTube of several high-speed chases. -

A St. Charles man was arrested on felony charges he reached speeds of 143 mph while fleeing St. Charles police on a motorcycle. Brian Bianco, 23, was arrested on charges of the June incident not because he was caught, but because he posted a video of his ride on YouTube. He is next due in court on Jan. 11 and faces a punishment ranging from probation to up to three years in prison if convicted of felony fleeing and eluding.

Yorkville men charged with food pantry theft

William Crowley, left, and Kenneth Spaeth, right, are accused of a multiyear theft from the Kendall County Food Pantry.
William Crowley, left, and Kenneth Spaeth, right, are accused of a multiyear theft from the Kendall County Food Pantry. -

The husband and father of the late director of the Kendall County Food Pantry were indicted in January on charges of stealing from the pantry over a span of 2-plus years. Yorkville police began investigating a complaint that as much as $200,000 was missing from the pantry. Kenneth Spaeth, who is the widower of Maria Spaeth -- the director of the charity pantry from 2008 through May 2016 -- and William Crowley, are charged with felony theft.

6 years for touching feet

An Aurora man, Omar Carlton, was sentenced in April to six years in prison for inappropriately touching women's feet in separate cases in libraries in Warrenville and Naperville's North Central College. During a 27-year span, Carlton has been banned from nine libraries for touching women's feet.

Charges in home invasion

A former Elgin woman was charged in July with attempted murder, aggravated arson, home invasion and possession of a stolen vehicle after prosecutors says she stabbed and tried to suffocate another woman, then set fire to her ex-boyfriend's Roselle townhouse. Chevaz R. Odio, 28, is held on $2 million bond.

135 mph fatal crash

A 62-year-old Warrenville man, Brian Thunderkick, is charged with reckless homicide after triggering a fiery crash that killed a 23-year-old Elgin woman on Butterfield Road in Wheaton in October. Authorities say Thunderkick was driving his Chevy Camaro at 135 mph at the time of the crash that killed Erika Vallagomez.

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