(CBS) – From the start, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd says, there were red flags in the death investigation of Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Gliniewicz.
“What I noticed was two striking things,” Rudd tells CBS 2’s Brad Edwards in his first interview since last week’s bombshell about a bad cop who staged his own suicide to look like murder.
“There was absolutely no defensive wound whatsoever,” Rudd says of the officer’s body.
The other suspicious factor: “His uniform was in roll-call order, which is rare in a struggle. There was only a little mud on his knees.”
Fifty-two-year-old “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz radioed the morning of Sept. 1 that he was pursuing three suspects. Colleagues found him moments later, in a remote area, fatally shot by his own weapon. A manhunt began for the suspects, and Gliniewicz was given a hero’s burial. No suspects were arrested.
Right away, things did not sit right with Rudd.
“The fatal shot to the left chest was 2 inches under the upper collar of the bullet proof vest, and that made no sense whatsoever,” the coroner says. “So, how does someone get that close to him and shoot him? And he being a trained Army reservist didn’t fight it off.”
Rudd drew the ire of investigators when he disclosed some information about the death and raised the specter of suicide, early on. Lake County Major Crime Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko said Rudd was jeopardizing the case.
Authorities later conceded suicide was a theory they were considering.
Last week, law enforcement unveiled a detailed synopsis of what they believed happened: Gliniewicz killed himself and tried to make it look like murder as village officials were moving closer to learning he was stealing money from a youth-policing program.
It turns out Gliniewicz was not liked among some of his colleagues. His personnel file was littered with allegations of misconduct.
Rudd said he was “dumbfounded” by the wave of information that capped the investigation, during a private briefing early last week. He praised investigators for concluding the case in a timely fashion.
Last week, Rudd and Filenko stood front and center at a news conference. Asked whether the two professionals had patched things up, Rudd replied:
“He’s got an ego; I’ve got an ego.”
Rudd says he has no regrets about speaking out. He says he’s confident investigators came to the correct conclusion.
“This office seeks the truth. That’s all we’re looking for is the truth,” he says.