An Illinois cop whose September 1 shooting death—discovered after he requested backup while in pursuit of three suspects—has been ruled a suicide, apparently motivated by the dead man’s fear that an embezzlement scheme he’d been running for years was about to be exposed.
Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a well-liked Army vet, had spent nearly a decade investigating crime scenes, so faking one probably wasn’t much of a stretch. According to the Chicago-area Daily Herald:
Officials said Gliniewicz first radioed dispatchers at 7:52 a.m., claiming he’d be at the village-owned old concrete plant on Honing Road to check on two white men and a black man who were acting suspiciously.
He radioed again at 7:55 a.m., saying the suspicious suspects took off into the swamp and that he’d need backup. The next radio dispatch was from the officer who found Gliniewicz shot at 8:09 a.m. He was pronounced dead at 8:25 a.m.
The immediate discovery of Gliniewicz’s body and radio transmissions he made before his death led officers to believe Gliniewicz was gunned down by the offenders he was chasing.
There were also signs of a struggle (scattered items, including the officer’s glasses) nearby. As a hunt for the alleged suspects continued, a thorough investigation was going on behind the scenes—spurred by findings like the fact that the shot that killed Gliniewicz had been fired directly into his chest, somehow circumventing his bullet-proof vest.
And then there was the stolen money, as CNN reports, quoting the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander, George Filenko:
“This staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing,” Filenko said, announcing the conclusions of the investigation into the officer’s September 1 death.
The officer had been stealing and laundering money from a police department program that mentored young people hoping to become law enforcement officers, Filenko said. Gliniewicz, a leader in that program, had been stealing money for at least seven years, he said.
Filenko—whose office studied pages of bank documents and some 6,500 deleted text messages—went on to say that Gliniewicz “committed the ultimate betrayal ... he behaved for years in a manner completely contrary to the image he portrayed.” The officer knew the truth was soon to emerge, thanks to an internal audit on Fox Lake’s financial records.
Gliniewicz’s wife, who helped him run the apparently shady mentorship program, and one of his sons are now under investigation for their alleged roles in the embezzlement. (The couple had three other children.) And there’s more. The Daily Herald updated their coverage with this bombshell earlier today:
Months before an Illinois police officer staged his suicide to look like murder, prompting an expensive manhunt that put his community under siege, he tried to find a hit man to kill a village administrator he feared would expose him as a thief, a detective told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Det. Chris Covelli said Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz sent a text in April asking a woman to contact a “high ranking gang member to put a hit on the village manager.” Gliniewicz also texted that perhaps the hit man could “plant something” on the manager, Covelli said.
That “something” might’ve been the bags of cocaine that Gliniewicz had stashed in his desk—though investigators have yet to determine the drugs’ real intended purpose.
Fox Lake Police Department photo via AP, File