We tend to go looking for bits of media coverage to pull together in one place. So for example if you have an older murder the information online becomes scattered. Some of it is archived, some is placed behind subscriber walls and recent mentions are brief appeals for new witnesses to come forward. In doing this we come across examples of really weird tales that should caution us about illogical speculation. Lt Joe Gliniewicz of the Fox Lake police Department is one more reminder that things are seldom what they seem.
This cop had been with the same outfit for 30 years. He was a brash, larger than life character who on the face of it was exactly what you want to get if you have an emergency. In reality he was a PR nightmare. I will put that to one side for a minute because I think this guy’s death could teach us a lot.
On 1st September 2015 this cop was on his way to work when he reported three males acting suspiciously near an old cement works. He radioed in and told dispatch he was going to have a look. He declined back up. Next thing he said they had run off into the countryside. He accepted a renewed offer of help. When colleagues arrived they found his car and after a moment heard a single shot.
A search ensued because Gliniewicz was not responding to his phone or radio. When he was found it looked like he had been in a fight. His pepper spray had been used and dropped, his baton was discarded and he no longer had his side arm. When they rolled him over they saw he had been shot twice. One of the bullets had been stopped by his bullet proof vest. A second shot had been fatal.
So a hunt was launched for the three suspects he had called in about. Nothing was found.
The town went into mourning and it was several months before the authorities came to a shocking conclusion. Lt Joe Gliniewicz had killed himself. His gun had been found quite close and something worse had been found in the enquiries after his death. He had been using charitable money for himself. A cop that looked like a great example of dedication, a cop who was about to retire, had realised his crime was to be exposed and had staged a heroic end for himself.
I honestly figured it was a suicide as soon as I heard about the single shot. The radio communications between him and dispatch were just wrong. A cop in that situation would have asked for back up to start making to him. I have been there. You are out numbered, yet there is no immediate threat. What is the harm in asking that colleagues gently roll towards you?
He was alone with three males acting suspiciously in an isolated location.
When he said they had run into the brush he did not request back up it had to be suggested to him. Then the single shot.
I wasn’t 100% but I knew something was not right. I wanted to put this case here because when it comes to web sleuthing we need to remember that people, elements, animals and terrain can be ridiculously unpredictable. Not only do people lie but they often lie for reasons that we cannot fathom. In this case the cop was under pressure from a new council auditor. She wanted receipts and accounts for a charity he had been running. It was all to do with giving young people a chance to train as cops. It seems to have been a Boy Scout type thing with guns.
An allegation is now levelled against his wife that she knew about a fraud. A fraud that saw funds for this program placed in her husband’s pocket. Her trial is pending and has been for some time.
Below is the rather excellent ‘That Chapter’ account of the case. He does such a good job I have been brief in the details here. Before you go and view it I humbly suggest we remember this cop and add him to stories like those of Laverne Pavlinac, Roy Tutill, Ken McElroy and Rey Rivera. All of those are marvellous illustrations of the principle of keeping an open mind when looking at crime online.
In fairness this cop was never convicted. I cannot say for 100% that he was a bad cop. It certainly looks that way. I will try and update when his wife goes to trial. Even if something came out that showed a criminal conspiracy had framed him it still illustrates the ‘things are seldom what they appear’ principle.