Lt. Joe Gliniewicz’s death is said to be “a carefully staged suicide,” by Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander George Filenko. Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, of Fox Lake, Illinois, was apparently under investigation at the time of his death for criminal activity.
The criminal activity Lt. Gliniewicz was being investigated for was stealing and laundering money from a program that mentored young people who wanted to become law enforcement officers called Explorers. It is believed that this had been happening for at least seven years. Gliniewicz was a leader of the program in the Fox Lake area.
The death of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz sparked a manhunt to find the person or persons that killed him. He was on duty the day of his death patrolling. He made a call over the radio that he was going to check on some suspicious activity. He described the suspects as two white males and one black male. Minutes later he called over the radio that he was in pursuit of a suspect on foot. That was the last that was heard of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz. Once officers reached the location, Gliniewicz was dead.
The manhunt went on for about a week until the Lake County coroner released a statement saying they could not rule the death out as a homicide, suicide, or accidental. It was said that Gliniewicz was shot twice. One shot was absorbed by his bullet-proof vest and the other shot in his torso with his own weapon.
There was suspicion that something was not right with the finances for the Explorers so village administrators started doing some searching. It was discovered that Gliniewicz was embezzling money and using it for personal reasons such as his mortgage, a gym membership, travel, loans to friends, and adult websites.
Emails and text messages of Gliniewicz were recovered showing that he was sharing the illegal acts with at least two other people who have not been named. Gliniewicz knew that village administrators were getting closer to finding out what he was doing and he had become very nervous and stressed.
It is believed that because he thought they were going to find out about him he decided to stage his own death. He had plenty of experience with staging a crime scene as part of his work with the Explorers. The scene was made to look as if there were a struggle. “This staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing,” Filenko said.
Gliniewicz was known in the community as a hero, a loving father, and a dedicated mentor. The village is deeply saddened that he portrayed himself as a caring individual and was taking from the youth. Gliniewicz was to retire in August from the police force but they asked him to stay on an extra month. He was viewed as a dedicated worker and from day one the police force believed that one of their own had been murdered. Gliniewicz family, however, still does not believe he committed suicide and his killer is still out there somewhere.