The coroner in charge of Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz’s autopsy has stated that the Illinois cop’s demise could have been a suicide, contrary to the assumption he had been murdered. Investigators are still treating the case as a homicide.
Gliniewicz, 52, died in the line of duty on the morning of Sept. 1, after he radioed his fellow officers that he was pursuing three suspects on foot. He was found dead with a bullet wound to the chest, Fox News reports.
A massive manhunt was launched to find the three men Gliniewicz had briefly described as two white males and one black male. They had been captured on security video in the area. Police combed the region using helicopters and dogs. The three suspects were found but cleared of wrongdoing a week after Gliniewicz's death.
Gliniewicz, affectionately dubbed “G.I.” Joe by his Fox Lake community, was buried in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, Daily Mail reports. According to Fox News, the ceremony was attended by more than 5,000 police officers from around the country.
Lake County coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd says he cannot confirm the cause of Gliniewicz’s death and says it could have been a suicide.
“We obviously know that a bullet killed him,” Rudd said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I can’t rule out a suicide. I can’t rule out an accident. And I can’t rule in a homicide.”
Fox News reports that Rudd’s admission has created a schism between him and the task force investigating the death. Lake County Sheriff’s spokesman Christopher Covelli has publicly chastised Rudd, telling reporters that the coroner’s leak of information has imperiled the investigation.
The investigation into Gliniewicz’s death has been aided by the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Homeland Security, although their involvement has since been pared down, citing a lack of suspects.
Covelli says that the investigation is still being treated as a homicide until tests find a conclusive answer to DNA found on the scene, ballistics of Gliniewicz’s firearm and gunshot residue, reports Newsweek.
Fox News reports that the officer was found with his gun by his body but there were no signs of a struggle.
Photo credit: Fox Lake Police via Daily Mail