CHICAGO (STMW) — The possibility that Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz killed himself was raised early on by one of the first officers who responded to the scene of his death, and aspects of his troubling behavior as a police officer were well-known to investigators, according to police reports.
Gliniewicz was found shot dead Sept. 1 after calling in a report that he saw three suspicious subjects at an abandoned concrete plant in the far northern town. The death sparked a massive manhunt, national media coverage and a hero’s funeral for the veteran officer dubbed “G.I. Joe” — combined with thousands of dollars donated in his honor to his family.READ MORE: Police Respond To Shots Fired Call At Clark And Lake CTA Stop
Investigators eventually determined that Gliniewicz staged his suicide to look as if he were murdered because he feared discovery that he had been stealing thousands of dollars from a youth police group he led to spend on vacations, pornography and other expenses.
The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force refused to release its investigative reports to the Sun-Times under a public records request, citing an ongoing investigation. The refusal came well after the task force’s commander, George Filenko, said at a Nov. 4 news conference that the task force’s investigation into Gliniewicz’s death was complete.
The task force for weeks publicly maintained that its focus was that Gliniewicz had been slain and even held a news conference to blast the local coroner after he raised the possibility of a suicide.
Filenko said at the Nov. 4 news conference: “I can’t alter the facts and the fact of the matter is that for several weeks we were investigating a homicide that possibly involved three individuals.”
A spokesman for the task force, Detective Chris Covelli, however, said in a statement responding to questions from the Sun-Times: “Throughout the investigation the task force said on numerous occasions all possibilities were being considered.”
On Monday, the Village of Fox Lake released redacted versions of those task force reports of interviews with first responders to the scene of Gliniewicz’s death, under a public records request. The Sun-Times independently obtained full versions of some of the reports.
The reports at times paint a highly unflattering portrayal of the veteran officer as well as a chaotic death scene.
One of the first responders, Lt. Mark Schindler, broke down, touched the hand of Gliniewicz and said, “Why Joe, why, Joe, no, no, no, no,” according to another officer on the scene, Russell T. Ebbing. Sgt. Dawn Deservi had to pull Schindler away from the body, Ebbing told investigators.
Deservi also told investigators that Ebbing raised the possibility that Gliniewicz had killed himself, given evidence at the scene.
Deservi dismissed that possibility, saying that Gliniewicz was too vain to try to kill himself. If Gliniewicz had missed he could be paralyzed for life and he could never live with that, she told investigators.READ MORE: Man Found Shot Dead Under Viaduct In Stony Island Park
Schindler also dismissed the possibility of suicide, saying “spontaneously” to investigators that, “This is not a suicide. Joe would not kill himself.”
The task force spokesman also noted that Ebbing was a probationary officer at the time.
“There were no obvious signs or evidence to draw any conclusions, including suicide,” Covelli said in a statement.
Deservi also said Gliniewicz was investigated for a having a sexual relationship with a female police officer, and that he refused to train Deservi on the firing range because “he wasn’t allowed to be alone with a woman at the police department,” according to the report of her interview.
Deservi also raised questions about Gliniewicz’s conduct with the youth police explorer program he ran, according to the report.
She “indicated that the police department always seemed to be missing various pieces of equipment . . . which later had been determined to be in use by the Explorer Post . . . “
“Deservi described Lt. Gliniewicz as a ‘Golden Child’ at Fox Lake PD who must have had some ‘dirt’ on someone to be able to stay with the police department with everything he had done through there.”
Gliniewicz’s frequent drunkenness and sexual harassment of police department employees came to light only after investigators held their November news conference on his suicide, and his personnel files were released after months of delay.
Covelli said in his statement that the task force acted responsibly at all times with the release of information to the public.
“It was not early on, but rather several days before the task force became aware of allegations of inappropriate relations with one female officer,” Covelli said. “It was only after several weeks, and only after extensive forensic examinations of bank records and deleted text messages that the task force obtained the first hints of possible irregularities with explorer club finances. The task force has behaved responsibly throughout this extraordinarily complex and difficult investigation.”MORE NEWS: Four In Custody Following Domestic Incident 'Involving A Firearm' At Sky Zone In Orland Park
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)