Fox Lake, Illinois, officer inquired about "hit" on city administrator, investigator says
Lt. Joe Gliniewicz staged suicide to make it look like a homicide, official says
Gliniewicz was stealing and laundering money from police program for youth, he says
The story about a small-town police officer in Illinois becomes more convoluted by the day.
Not only did Fox Lake Lt. Joe Gliniewicz stage his suicide, apparently to avoid being revealed as a thief, but he made an inquiry about hiring a motorcycle gang to kill the city administrator, a police official said Thursday.
Investigators interviewed a woman who said the officer asked for help finding a gang member to kill the administrator, Lake County Major Task Force member Christopher Covelli said.
When authorities talked to the gang member, he denied having a conversation with Gliniewicz about a hit, Covelli said. No other evidence was found about a hit.
At a press conference, Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin was asked how it felt to know a police officer apparently wanted her dead.
“Unsettling,” she said of the inquiry. “It’s quite unbelievable and almost surreal.”
Marrin said she was asking questions about the youth group that police say Gliniewicz was stealing from. She said she didn’t know about Gliniewicz’ plans until after his death and doesn’t feel in danger now.
“Even though these threats were made months ago, I take these threats very seriously,” she said.
The hit man revelation is the latest turn in a story that has shaken Fox Lake, a community northwest of Chicago.
Gliniewicz, a veteran officer with 30 years experience, was found shot to death on September 1 after he radioed that he was chasing suspects into a wooded area while on patrol. No arrests were made. The community mourned the shaved-head military veteran known as G.I. Joe.
Authorities didn’t truly suspect Gliniewicz had killed himself until about two weeks ago, when bank statements and text messages revealed the extent of his stealing, said George Filenko, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander.
Money taken from Explorers Post
Gliniewicz stole “tens of thousands” of dollars from the Explorers Post, an organization for youths interested in law enforcement careers, Marrin said. The police department sponsored the group and Gliniewicz was the leader. Investigators said he used the money to pay his mortgage and other expenses.
Marrin said her relations with Gliniewicz were always cordial.
“We never fought,” she said. “There were no harsh words.”
But he was reluctant to provide information about the Explorers. She asked for but didn’t receive schedules of activities, a list of members or parental consent forms, she said.
“They didn’t have a budget,” Marrin said. “That was part of the problem.”
A day or two before Gliniewicz’ death, she asked for an inventory of equipment owned by the Explorers, she said. He didn’t provide it by the deadline and she asked again.
“His email said, ‘I will have that information for you by noon or 1 o’clock at the latest,’ ” she said.
That was on September 1. Gliniewicz was found dead later that day.
The lieutenant sent word over his radio at 7:52 a.m. that he was pursuing a trio on foot. Three minutes later, he requested backup. Radio communication dropped off. Colleagues would not hear Gliniewicz’s voice again.
The backups arrived about 8 a.m. and a few minutes later found Gliniewicz dead. His body was roughly 50 yards from his cruiser, police said. The officer’s .40-caliber pistol was found at the scene.
A massive manhunt followed, with 400 law enforcement officers looking through the woods around the crime scene and helicopters hovered overhead.
Gliniewicz was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time he was shot, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation. One of the officials said two shots hit Gliniewicz – one stopped by his bulletproof vest, and another entered his torso at a downward angle.
Recovered text messages
Gliniewicz had deleted 6,500 text messages, Filke said. Investigators spent weeks recovering them.
In one messages that police released, Gliniewicz talked about how much he disliked Marrin.
“We have a new village administrator that is a power monger and is trying to control everything in the village,” Gliniewicz said, adding that many officers were considering retirement.
The officer allegedly had discussed causing harm to Marrin.
“Hopefully she decides to get a couple of drinks in her and she gets a dui,” said a person identified as “Individual #2.”
Gliniewicz replied, “She does, but not around here and no one knows where. Trust me ive thought through MANY SCENARIOS from planting things to the volo bog!” Apparently he meant the Volo Bog, a state park with a lake near Fox Lake.
After Gliniewicz’ death, investigators found packets of cocaine in his desk. Authorities haven’t said whether those were the “things” he considered planting in her car. The evidence bag with cocaine was not marked and it did not have a case number on it, investigators said. The toxicology report did not include a positive finding for cocaine.
The investigation is not over and more people may be arrested. The widow and a son of Gliniewizc are being investigated to determine whether they were involved in the embezzlement of funds, three law enforcement sources told CNN on Thursday.
One source says the two are the individuals 1 and 2 referred to in the text messages released by the investigative task force.
When reached Thursday, an attorney for the family refused to comment.
CNN’s Pamela Brown, Ray Sanchez, Dana Ford, Ed Payne, Faith Karimi and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.