The Slatest

Police: Officer Memorialized as Fallen Hero Actually Killed Himself to Cover Up Theft

A candlelight vigil for Joseph Gliniewicz in Fox Lake, Illinois, on Sept. 2, 2015, when he was believed to have been shot in the line of duty.

Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

On Sept. 1, a police officer in Fox Lake, Illinois, named Joseph Gliniewicz was found shot to death in a “remote, marshy area” shortly after having radioed to report that he was pursuing three individuals who had engaged in “suspicious activity.” A manhunt for the suspects ensued, and Gliniewicz—who headed a “Police Explorers” school program in Fox Lake, which is about 60 miles north of Chicago, and was known locally as “G.I. Joe”—was memorialized as a hero. But authorities now say that they believe Gliniewicz committed suicide—and that he attempted to make his death look like a line-of-duty murder to cover up the fact that he was embezzling from the Police Explorers program. From the Chicago Daily Herald:

George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, called Gliniewicz’s actions the “ultimate betrayal” that included intentionally leaving a staged trail of police equipment at the crime scene in an attempt to mislead police to believe his death was a homicide.

Filenko and other law enforcement officials announced details of the investigation’s findings that Gliniewicz took a large sum of money from Fox Lake Explorer Post 300. Thousands of dollars was used by Gliniewicz for personal purchases, including travel expenses, mortgage payments, gym memberships, adult websites, facilitating personal loans and unaccounted cash withdrawals, Filenko said.

Stealing from a kids’ program to pay for adult websites!

Police say Gliniewicz left the trail of items, including his baton and pepper spray, strewn near his body after calling in the report on suspects who don’t seem to have ever existed. The investigation into his death has implicated two other people in possible criminal activity, authorities said, but did not provide further details.