Boy, 9, charged with murder ‘dealt a bad hand’

Southwest Michigan

ALBION, Ind. (WOOD) — The youngest child ever charged with homicide in West Michigan, accused of killing his adoptive mother near Sturgis, has been in the court system since he was 10 months old, records show.

By then, still not old enough to walk, he was already caught up in methamphetamine at the hands of his biological mother.

The boy, whose name is not being released, was less than 3 months old in 2010 when police in Noble County, Indiana, arrested his mom, Boni Coffelt, for buying the ingredients to make meth. She was 23 years old.

“He was dealt a bad hand, you know, from his mom and his dad,” said Coffelt’s sister, Loni Owens.

Owens saw what her sister was going through and struggling with.

The arrest wasn’t Coffelt’s first and wouldn’t be her last. She had three meth-related arrests that year alone.

“Boni was going through addiction during her pregnancy. But when he was born, it was not in his system,” her sister told 24 Hour News 8.

The boy was 10 months old when the court agreed his best chance at life was with a guardian — his mom’s aunt, Pauline Randol of Sturgis.

Randol later became his adoptive mom, then his alleged victim. She was shot and killed on Monday, allegedly by a boy with a rifle who relatives say doesn’t remember doing it.

“It hurts,” Owens said. “She was a wonderful woman. Everyone who knew her fell in love with her.”

The shooting happened at a home on Plumb School Road near US-12 in Fawn River Township, east of Sturgis.

The boy was arraigned on a count of open murder and a felony weapons charge.

Records in Noble County show the boy’s biological mom, at least early on in his life, wanted to spend more time with him.

“Been clean almost 7 months,” Coffelt wrote to a judge after the boy turned 1, asking for a chance to “mend the broken relationship” with her son. She asked for visitation.

When the boy was 2 1/2, Coffelt wrote she was 15 months clean with a home and a car. She wanted unsupervised time with her son.

But drug addiction plagued Coffelt. According to a published report, Coffelt and a man were arrested in 2017 for breaking into five vehicles to steal whatever they could find to feed their drug habit. Her attorney said Coffelt was addicted to meth and that the drug had led her to lose her children and her house.

The boy was one of three of her children sent to live with separate guardians — two of the children with different fathers. Court records don’t list the young suspect’s father’s name.

Relatives have said the boy was recently being treated for an undisclosed mental health condition.

“Pauline did everything that she could as far as getting him tested, trying every different medication out there for him,” the boy’s aunt said. “He just started a new medication, and I feel like he was failed.”

Owens said the boy’s biological mom, now 32 and in prison in Indiana on felony theft charges, is blaming herself, not her son.

Owens said she had a message for her nephew: “That we love him.”

The boy is being held in a mental health facility in Michigan with no future court date set.

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