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Death of man in McHenry County Jail ruled a suicide

Thomas Doheny, 51, of Cary
Thomas Doheny, 51, of Cary

The death of the Cary man, who reportedly couldn’t keep up with $20,000 a month child support payments, at the McHenry County Jail in November has been ruled a suicide by the coroner.

Thomas M. Doheny, 51, of Cary, was found unresponsive in a single occupant jail cell at the McHenry County Jail on November 17 while guards were conducting rounds, McHenry County Coroner Dr. Anne Majewski said. Doheny was transported by ambulance to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock where he was pronounced dead at 8:53 p.m.

The McHenry County Coroner said on Thursday that Doheny’s death was ruled a suicide. According to the final autopsy report, he died from asphyxia due to suffocation by a plastic bag.

“Scene investigation revealed that he was found in his cell with a plastic bag around his neck which was loosely secured with a shirt,” McHenry County Coroner Dr. Anne Majewski said.

The coroner also said that toxicology testing was negative.

The Northwest Herald spoke with Doheny’s partner, Sandra Avila, several months ago. She said that Doheny had been incarcerated at the McHenry County Jail since November 1 for contempt of court because he was behind on his child support stemming from a 2014 divorce.

Court records show that McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge ordered Doheny to stay at the McHenry County Jail for an “indeterminate period” until he could pay the $125,000 that he owed, the Northwest Herald reported.

“How do they expect him to pay for something when he doesn’t have it – and now he’s in jail?” Avila said to the Northwest Herald. “He was trying to make the best he could, and they took that away from him. That’s something that’s wrong with the system, and that’s something that’s got to change.”

According to a news article by the Patch, Doheny was working to reduce the $20,000 monthly child support payments to his ex-wife, which he could no longer afford like he could five years ago.

The Patch also reported that Doheny made 260 court appearances in the last two years in attempts to lower the $20,000 a month payment. The anonymous source also told the Patch that Doheny’s company hired an attorney to keep up with all the subpoenas his ex-wife sent.

The Northwest Herald reported that Doheny left behind letters for Avila and his four children.

Doheny worked in the sewer cleaning industry for over 30 years. He owned Doheny Equipment and Supplies based in Island Lake.


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