THE ILLINOIS POLICE OFFICER hailed as a heroic G.I. Joe when he was found dead in August committed suicide, according to investigators. Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz shot himself amid fears that the police department would uncover his alleged theft of department funds.
In September, Gliniewicz’s body was found in a wooded area after he radioed to his colleagues that he was pursuing three male suspects. It turns out there were no suspects. Gliniewicz killed himself, but not before staging an elaborate crime scene to make it appear as if he had been killed in the line of duty. Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko, during a news conference this morning, said that Gliniewicz used his .40 caliber pistol to shoot himself in his protective vest, and then shot himself in the chest.
Before killing himself, Gliniewicz placed his pepper spray and glasses in strategic spots near his body to give the appearance of a struggle. Filenko said that Gliniewicz had ample experience staging mock crime scenes because of his work with a department-sponsored youth program.
The now-disgraced officer allegedly stole thousands of dollars from that program, which was aimed at teenagers interested in law enforcement. Gliniewicz, investigators said, spent the money on adult websites, his mortgage, and gym memberships. Authorities believe Gliniewicz was afraid that an upcoming department audit was going to expose his criminal activities.
“We have determined this staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing. In fact he was under increasing levels of personal stress from scrutiny of his management of the Fox Lake Police Explorer program,” said Filenko.
A clue that something was amiss came in September when the county coroner, Thomas Rudd, said that suicide couldn’t be ruled out. Investigators, including Filenko, were outraged by Rudd’s public pronouncements and accused him of jeopardizing the investigation. The last update came from authorities a month ago when Filenko said there was evidence of a struggle, but today he admitted that there had been no struggle.
Gliniewicz’s suicide set off a large manhunt, with neighboring police departments and federal agencies scouring Fox Lake and surrounding communities in search of possible clues and suspects. According to local reports, more than $300,000 was spent during the search for Gliniewicz’s imaginary killers. Thousands of dollars were also donated to his widow and four children. His funeral drew police officers from around the country. And some foolish critics of Black Lives Matter used Gliniewicz’s death to criticize the movement, accusing activists of fomenting hatred of police.
But it was all a massive ruse constructed by a thief who stole money from a program meant to help children. “Gliniewicz,” Filenko said, “committed the ultimate betrayal.”