The death of Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was a "carefully planned suicide," officials said Wednesday, not a martyr's execution by unknown fugitives as originally thought after his body was found on Sept. 1 northwest of Chicago.
Lake County authorities said they initially believed Gliniewicz was killed in the line of duty when he was found dead of a gunshot wound, reportedly after chasing three subjects in a marsh area near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, said the Chicago Tribune.
Gliniewicz's death sparked a massive manhunt for the suspects, involving hundreds of officers searching houses, cabins and boats on area lakes, said WFLD-TV
, but the search, which included helicopters with heat-sensing scanners and K-9 units, scoured the area for days and turned up nothing.
Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said police now believe the Fox Lakes officer took his own life with a gunshot to his torso, said CNN
"This staged suicide was the end result of extensive criminal acts that Gliniewicz had been committing," said Filenko.
Filenko said Gliniewicz had been embezzling money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer program for years, according to The Associated Press,
which he was spending on mortgage payments, travel expenses, gym memberships and adult websites.
CNN said Gliniewicz was scheduled to retire from the Fox Lake police force in August but was asked to stay with the department one more month. The morning of Sept. 1, Gliniewicz radioed that he was pursuing three suspects and later called for backup when radio communication was dropped.
Authorities said Gliniewicz was on foot around the crime scene for about 20 minutes before calling in about suspicious activity, according to GPS data.
His body was found about 50 yards away from his cruiser minutes after his last radio dispatch.
Several days after the shooting, Lake County coroner Thomas Rudd said he couldn't rule out suicide. It was later determined that Gliniewicz was shot once in his protective vest and once in the upper left of his torso, said the Tribune.
At Wednesday's news conference Filenko defended how the investigation was initially handled, said NBC News
"The embarrassment comes to me personally that this is the first time in my career that I've felt ashamed by the acts of another police officer," said Filenko.
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