A beloved police officer in the town of Fox Lake, Illinois, committed suicide and staged his death to look like he was killed in the line of duty, investigators said Wednesday.
Lieutenant Charles “Joe” Gliniewicz was found dead on September 1 after radioing in that he was pursuing three suspects.
Investigators said during a press conference they have determined Gliniewicz killed himself after seven years of money laundering and theft from the police explorer’s post he worked with.
His death sparked a massive manhunt for two white men and a black man originally believed to have shot Gliniewicz during a struggle.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gliniewicz Set Up the Crime Scene to Look Like a Homicide, Police Say
Investigators said Gliniewicz carefully staged his death to look like it was a homicide. He left his glasses, baton and pepper spray scattered around the crime scene. He then shot himself once in the bullet proof vest, before firing a second shot into his chest that was fatal.
You can watch the press conference announcing the new details of the investigation below:
According to CBS Chicago, the officer radioed in at about 7:50 a.m. and said he was pursuing three suspects after looking into their “suspicious activity.”
He said he was in a foot pursuit, but the department then lost radio contact with him. Backup was sent to the area.
After police lost radio contact with Gliniewicz, they began searching for him. He was found in a marshy area suffering from a gunshot wound. He had been stripped of his gun and other gear, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an officer could be heard saying on the radio, “… send everybody you possibly can … officer is down …”
Schools were put in lock down and officers have swarmed the town in the search for the suspects. Fox Lake is a village of about 10,500 residents located about 1 hour and 20 minutes north of Chicago in Lake County.
2. Two Other Suspects Are Under Investigation Connected to the Theft of Money
Police said two suspects are also under investigation in connection to the theft of money from the Fox Lake police explorer post, investigators said.
Details of that investigation have not yet been released.
3. Gliniewicz Spent the Stolen Money on Vacations, Adult Websites & Other Personal Websites, Police Say
Gliniewicz spent the stolen money on personal expenses, including vacations, gym memberships, adult websites and his mortgage, police said.
Investigators said the town of Fox Lake was auditing its finances, and they believe he was stressed that would lead them to uncover his theft from the police explorers.
Gliniewicz was set to retire at the end of September.
4. He Was a 32-Year Veteran of the Fox Lake Department & a Married Father of 4 Sons
Glinewicz, 52, was a 32-year veteran of the Fox Lake Department and was a lieutenant.
The officer was fun-loving and optimistic, retired Waukegan officer Thomas Poulos, who went to high school with Gliniewicz in Antioch, Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune. They graduated together in 1981.
Gliniewicz, who was known as Joe or Joey in high school, “loved his job, loved his kids, loved his wife … He was just a delight to be around. … Not a bad bone in his body,” Poulos told the Tribune.
He was a married father of four sons.
“He’s got four sons who are going to have to go on alone,” his mother-in-law, Terry Resetar, told the Tribune.
5. He Was an Army Veteran & a Leader of the Local Police Explorers
Gliniewicz, known affectionately as “G.I. Joe” in the community, was an Army veteran and was the longtime leader of the local police explorers, working with youth interested in law enforcement, the Northwest Herald reports.
He served in the Army from 1980 until 2007, in active duty and then as a reserve, leaving as a first sergeant, he newspaper reports.
He earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Kaplan University, according to his Facebook page.
The Mayor of Fox Lake, Donny Schmidt, told reporters that Gliniewicz was “a very dear friend.”
“We lost a family member,” Schmidt said at an afternoon news conference, according to the Chicago Tribune. “G.I. Joe was the father of four boys and a dedicated officer.”
Nathan Muelfedler, the owner of Good Family Tattoo, said Gliniewicz was a regular customer. He said he did about half of the fallen officer’s body art, including tattoos of police badges.
“He was a super nice guy. He was always loud when he was here, you could hear him a mile away,” Muehlfelder told the Tribune. “He always did things for the community, especially with the police explorers. He was always a really happy guy. Never angry, always laughing. He was super strong for an older guy. He was ripped. He was doing what he liked to do.”