Officials concluded that Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, 52, killed himself with his own gun in a 'carefully staged suicide'

By Tara Fowler
Updated November 05, 2015 09:20 AM
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The wife and son of an Illinois cop who took his life in September in a “carefully staged suicide” are now under investigation in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Program.

On Wednesday, officials concluded that Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, 52, killed himself with his own gun in an attempt to cover up the fact that he was “stealing and laundering” money from the department’s Police Explorer program.

It was “the ultimate betrayal to the citizens he served and the entire law enforcement community,” Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Cmd. George Filenko said.

Authorities said Wednesday that at least two other individuals were involved in the plot. Police are looking into Gliniewicz’s wife and son, Melodie and D.J. Gliniewicz, to see whether they had any part in the embezzling scheme, Fox 32 Chicago and NBC Chicago report.

“Our investigation strongly indicates criminal activity on the part of at least two other individuals,” Filenko said Wednesday.

Gliniewicz’s family released a statement later on Wednesday saying that they are cooperating with the investigation. “Today has been another day of deep sorrow for the Gliniewicz family,” the statement reads. “The family has cooperated with the Task Force’s investigation and will not comment at this time. The Gliniewicz family requests that their privacy be respected as they continue to cope with the loss of the beloved husband and father.”

But the fallout from the investigation continues: A police charity that donated $15,000 to Melodie Gliniewicz after her husband’s death has announced that it plans to ask for the money back, according to CBS Chicago.

Joe Ahern, CEO of the organization, told the network that he has an obligation “to use the money wisely for officers killed in the line of duty.”

Gliniewicz, a 32-year police veteran, was discovered dead on Sept. 1 after he radioed that he was chasing “three suspicious subjects” on foot. Responding officers said they heard a gunshot before they found the officer’s body.

A manhunt ensued, closing local schools and even the airspace, as hundreds of officers searched for Gliniewicz’s alleged killers.

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But on Wednesday, officials said that Gliniewicz actually staged the crime scene prior to his death, leaving a trail of equipment that officers discovered, including a canister of pepper spray, his police baton and his eyeglasses.

Gliniewicz’s wife had previously insisted that her husband had no reason to kill himself. “I wholeheartedly believe he was murdered,” Melodie told Crime Watch Daily in an interview that aired last month.

“There were things that were happening in our life that people who are going to commit suicide would never do. He’d already applied for chiefs’ jobs in other towns. He was retiring out. We were planning vacations,” she said.

“We lived for these things.”