On the morning of September 1, 2015, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was shot dead while on duty. The town of Fox Lake, Illinois, was shocked. A beloved police officer at the Fox Lake Police Department, people mourned the death of Gliniewicz - who was known as G.I. Joe. But soon the truth was revealed. Gliniewicz wasn't murdered by a perp on the run. He killed himself in one last attempt to hide his secret double life.
Crimes committed by cops are more common than you'd like to think, and Gliniewicz's tragic life proves that just because a person has a badge doesn't mean they won't turn to a life of crime. Gliniewicz betrayed his community by starting an embezzlement scheme, defrauding taxpayers, and breaking the trust of so many. And when the truth started catching up to him, he took his own life.
Investigators Discovered He Committed Suicide By Looking At The Evidence That Wasn't There
Gliniewicz was on duty the morning of September 1, 2015, when he placed a call over the radio that he had been shot. Initially, officers believed he was ambushed by an unidentified suspect, but soon forensic evidence pointed to a suicide. It took investigators a week and a half to determine Gliniewicz shot himself with his own service weapon and staged the scene beforehand to look like a murder.
But how did investigators figure it out? Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said it was by looking at what wasn't there. His uniform wasn't disheveled - which would've indicated a struggle - and his microphone was still attached to his lapel. Filenko said an officer's microphone, which is used for a variety of reasons, comes off very easily. When they saw it was still clipped on, they knew something was off. The crime scene indicated a struggle, and yet his body indicated there wasn't one.
He Staged The Scene Of His Death To Look Like A Crime Scene
At first glance, it did appear as though Gliniewicz was murdered. Before his death, he made a radio call asking for backup, describing an altercation with three people. He then radioed "officer down" and requested for all units to come. They stumbled across Gliniewicz's dead body. Surrounding him were his pepper spray cannister with the safety taken off and his police baton. His glasses were thrown into a swamp nearby. Everything indicated a sign of a struggle. Police said they were confident he was murdered and started their search for his murderers.
He Embezzled Money From A Youth Policing Program That He Ran
Gliniewicz was in charge of a local charity called the Explorers Youth Policing Program. It was created to train young people interested in going into police work or the military and is chartered by the Boy Scouts of America Northeast Illinois Council. It was also seen as a good structural program for teens, specifically boys. It was run by Gliniewicz, and it was part of the reason he was held in such high regard in the community.
But behind the scenes, he was stealing thousands of dollars from it. While it hasn't been determined how much he actually stole, investigators said it was a significant amount of the program's budget. He used the money to pay for his car, buy movie tickets, and sign up for adult entertainment sites.
A Massive Manhunt For His Fictional Killers Went On For More Than A Week And Cost $1 Million
Within a matter of minutes, the small community of Fox Lake was on total lockdown. The FAA declared the airspace over the village a no-fly zone. Police officers from several surrounding agencies came in to help with the manhunt. Because police initially believed Gliniewicz's "killers" were on foot, they combed hundreds of miles and received countless tips. Overall, the cost of the search was estimated $1 million.