Illinois police officer’s shooting death called ‘carefully staged suicide’

Fox News

An Illinois police officer whose shooting death in September led to a massive manhunt committed suicide due to personal and professional pressures, investigators announced during a Wednesday morning news conference.

Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph “Joe” Gliniewicz was stealing and laundering money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer’s program and committed suicide due to the “personal stress from scrutiny of his management,” Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said.  

“Gliniewicz’s death was a carefully staged suicide,” said Filenko, who added that the officer had “significant experience staging mock crime scenes.”

Filenko said the investigation “strongly indicates criminal activity on the part of at least two other individuals,” though those charges weren’t more fully explained.

Gliniewicz, 52, radioed on Sept. 1 that he was chasing three suspicious men on foot. Backup officers later found his body 50 yards from his squad car.

He was struck by two rounds, one that hit his ballistic vest with the force of a “sledgehammer” and another that pierced his upper chest, killing him.

Gliniewicz left a trail of items – pepper spray, expandable baton, a pair of glasses – before he ultimately shot himself twice near a swampy area. Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd said Wednesday that Gliniewicz was likely alive for a minute or two after firing the shot that killed him because the bullet entered into his artery and not his heart.

Gliniewicz’s gun was discovered by responding officers about 2 ½ feet above his head, Filenko said, but the weapon was not recovered until nearly two hours after the officer’s death due to the overgrown grassy terrain.

“Unless you literally walked up on to the weapon you wouldn’t find it,” Filenko said. Authorities didn’t announce until October that the officer was shot with his own weapon.

After Gliniewicz’s shooting, a massive manhunt ensued, with hundreds of officers searching houses, cabins and even boats on a chain of area lakes. Authorities released a vague description of three suspects, though no one was ever arrested.

More than 100 investigators stayed on the case for weeks, reviewing more than 6,500 deleted text messages from Gliniewicz, 30,000 telephone numbers, 40,000 emails and thousands of pages of financial records. Additionally, 250 pieces of evidence were submitted to local and federal crime labs.

Investigators conceded they could not rule out suicide or an accident in mid-September, following persistent questioning from the media.

Authorities working the case said Wednesday they did not find “any signs of trauma to the hands or anything that would indicate there was a struggle physically.” Gliniewicz’s uniform was “generally not disheveled,” as it would have been were there a struggle. Rudd said Wednesday he did find numerous contusions to Gliniewicz’s head, however, likely sustained when Gliniewicz fell backward following the first shot and then forward after the second shot.

Filenko said investigators “succinctly began to conclude” that Gliniewicz committed suicide within the last week and a half.

Gliniewicz’s family had dismissed the suggestion of suicide. His son D.J. Gliniewicz said his father “never once” thought of taking his own life, and he described how his dad spoke excitedly about what he planned to do after retiring. Gliniewicz had four children.

Flags flew at half-staff in honor of the 30-year police veteran after the shooting in Fox Lake, a close-knit community of 10,000 residents located about 50 miles north of Chicago. Signs with the officer’s picture hung in storefront windows.

During the generally testy news conference Wednesday, Filenko was pressed several times on if he intentionally misled reporters and community members, or if he had any regrets about the investigation in general.

“I don’t see where we would owe the public an apology trying to do due diligence and conduct a thorough and factual investigation,” he said.

But Filenko did reflect on one area of “embarrassment.”

“This is the first time as a law enforcement officer in my career that I felt ashamed by the acts of another police officer,” he said.

Gliniewicz, a tattooed officer with a shaved head, was described by those who knew him as tough when needed, but also as sweet and a role model to youngsters aspiring to go into law enforcement. He had also served in the U.S. Army and was affectionately known as “G.I. Joe.”

But Gliniewicz also was apparently living a double life, stealing and laundering money by forging signatures on official documents for seven years, according to Filenko. The cash funded personal expenses, gym memberships, adult website memberships, personal loans and mortgage payments.

“Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal,” Filenko said.

Investigators submitted Gliniewicz’s cellphone to Quantico for analysis, which took a “substantial period of time,” but officials eventually recovered thousands of deleted text messages that incriminated Gliniewicz. Fox Lake had begun conducting an internal audit, and Gliniewicz was apparently convinced his illicit activities would be uncovered.

The stress on Gliniewicz began about six months ago, Filenko said. Though the initial focus of the audit did not land on Gliniewicz, he allegedly felt pressured by new village management and, in texts to “more than one person,” described the stresses of being discovered and “feeling as if everything is coming to a close.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

18 thoughts on “Illinois police officer’s shooting death called ‘carefully staged suicide’

  1. If you go back you can see we called this on the first day. But I doubt it was a suicide…carefully “staged” and all.

  2. “… the officer had “significant experience staging mock crime scenes.”

    Don’t they all?

    “His son D.J. Gliniewicz said his father “never once” thought of taking his own life, and he described how his dad spoke excitedly about what he planned to do after retiring.”

    Methinks he may have had assistance (pig)… unasked for.

  3. doncha just love how they “launched a massive man hunt”…for f-ing NOBODY! LMFAO at how inept these stooges are and the fact that they just “dont get it”


    1. Exactly, how do you manhunt a nobody? Don’t you have to at least have a suspect? And to think it took them this long to figure out when we had it pegged the very first day. Staged ineptness.

    2. Over 25,000 man hours at taxpayers expense I heard on CNN today. His supervisor says, “I’m ashamed.” (that someone else didn’t kill him and he made me look like a fool)

  4. “This is the first time as a law enforcement officer in my career that I felt ashamed by the acts of another police officer,” he said.

    you have got to be friggen kidding! guess this badged freak doesnt pay much attention lately

    and it tells a lot about what it really takes for these pukes to see what exactly they are

    1. Typically they do, depends on the policy. I know mine had a two year non pay for suicide, but after two years they didn’t care if you offed yourself.

      1. I am surprised. I thought they wouldn’t, since deaths could be arranged to look like suicides, which would give beneficiaries an incentive to murder.

  5. nice story…was this from a tv drama? I don’t have tv haha…..meanwhile the door to door search exercise was carried out

  6. I saw a picture of him in his squad car, he was apparently a two pack a day smoker, lol, that explains the embezzlement from the police explorer fund! That, the porn sites, gambling, drugs, mortgage and all the other stuff. I bet he was cop of the year one time, too. I haven’t seen a 2 pack a day smoker in years. I bet his car stunk pretty bad. Think about how utterly psychotic this guy must have been: porn, embezzlement, had to shoot himself twice to commit suicide, hoaxing his own department, blaming two black guys, (I thought it was a Mexican?!?) he was in the process of hiring a hitman to take out an administrator. He steals from the kids and spends it on porn, he ruined his families chances for any pension, more… I guess 2 pack a day smoker is not that much but added to all the other stuff, wow. And this guy was considered a good one too! Worthy of a 25,000 hour manhunt despite us clearly calling it the first day! I looked through the old articles and wow, couldn’t find who said something about being killed with his own gun though.

  7. FYI..The Explorers program is to entice kids into becoming LEO’s. Filling their heads with the kind of crap that we see coming out of these cops/pigs on video. The son of a friend went through the Explorers through South Dakota sheriff Assoc. In the beginning, they sent him home with a Bat utility belt equipped with hand cuffs, radio’s. He then went through the boot camp in Northern Minnesota and came back with a Trooper uniform acting just like one of them and hopes to be a State Trooper :(. I believe he answers 911 calls at this point. It saddens me to see the brain washing and hope the seeds of freedom administered take root someday soon, and don’t all fall out the other ear!

    1. I was a Tulsa Police explorer back in 1980s. All I saw was a lot of lowbrows showing off to little kids by banging every suspects head off the hood of their squad car. That’s what I took from it. If you were drawn to that kind of behavior from an early age I could see where this would leave a big impression. I’m more the firefighter type I guess.

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