Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, of Fox Lake, Illinois, was found dead on September 1st, 50 feet from his squad car, after radioing in to say that he was chasing three suspects. When officers arrived on the scene, they observed that his gun holster was empty and his pepper spray was gone. His gun, found three feet from his body, was recovered hours later from some tall grass.
One officer responding to the shooting death of a fellow cop suspected suicide, but his remarks were quickly dismissed by the other responders due to the fatally shot cop’s reputation.
The officers, three of whom were close enough to hear the gunshot, gave accounts that provided little evidence that the area surrounding the cop had been disturbed, indicating that others may not have been there.
A rookie officer noted the positioning of Lt. Gliniewicz’s hand, as if he was holding a gun, but one of his superiors attributed it to the way that fingers rest after death, a statement that was backed up by coroner’s office. The coroner, however, had not ruled out suicide, after pronouncing that the officer had been killed by a single “devastating” gunshot wound to the chest.
Investigators criticized this move for jeopardizing the investigation. This case, which involved a manhunt of over 100 investigators and 400 leads, at first raised concerns about possible cop-killers.
Lt. Mark Schindler, who was overcome with emotion at the scene, asking the lifeless Lt. Gliniewicz, “Why, Joe, why?”, told investigators three weeks after the incident that he never suspected suicide, though the lieutenant had previously mentioned financial concerns over his retirement funds. Another officer pointed to Lt. Gliniewicz’s vanity as a reason against a suspected suicide.
The investigation revealed that the officer may have killed himself after questions surrounding funds and equipment that he had embezzled were raised. Prior to this revelation, the cop had been extolled as a hero.
The investigation found that Gliniewicz had been stealing and laundering money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post. Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal, to the citizens he served, and the entire law enforcement community.
The lieutenant’s death was ruled a carefully staged suicide.