A lengthy and costly investigation into the shooting death of an Illinois police officer has ended with an unexpected twist.
The death of Fox Lake Police Lt. Joseph "Joe" Gliniewicz on Sept. 1 was initially believed to be a homicide, ABC News reports. However, after an extensive investigation, officers came to the conclusion that Gliniewicz’s death was actually a “carefully staged suicide” meant to cover up seven years worth of embezzlement, authorities said during a press conference Nov. 4.
Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said Gliniewicz had experience with staging murder scenes for police training. The scene was made to appear as though there had been “an ongoing type of struggle.”
“The trail of equipment …was an attempt to mislead first responders and investigators that this was a homicide scene,” Filenko said, according to ABC News.
Gliniewicz stole upwards of $50,000 from a community program he led, using the funds to pay for personal expenses including his mortgage and gym membership.
“This had been occurring over the past seven years,” Filenko said.
The community program he stole from was the Fox Lake Police Explorers Program, which focused on mentoring children.
“I think he knew there was the possibility of incarceration and his view in the community would be greatly diminished,” Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said.
Gliniewicz reportedly feared being found out due to an investigation into police expenses.
“If she gets ahold of the old checking account, im pretty well f---ed,” the officer reportedly wrote in a text message to an undisclosed recipient.
He allegedly considered setting up Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin to be arrested on a DUI charge.
“I want to be very clear on this point: the village fully supports the prosecution of each and every individual who conspired with Lt. Gliniewicz and/or has engaged in criminal activity,” Marrin said.
Marrin added that her initial concerns related to equipment requisitioned from the military. She denied any knowledge of missing money.
The investigation into Gliniewicz’s death involved officers from 50 suburban police departments across Illinois, according to the Daily Herald. More than $300,000 was spent on the case, including over $196,000 of overtime pay. A total of 283 employees assisted in the investigation or covered shifts for those assisting during the first three weeks.
It's unclear if Gliniewicz's widow was aware that he was laundering money.