One bad night can change everything. Even if everything is going well, the events of one single night can alter a person’s legacy forever.
Lt. Charles Gliniewicz was a great cop. His family loved and relied on him, his brother and sister officers respected him, and his community looked to him to help keep them safe from threats without. One warm, September night Officer Gliniewicz ran afoul of something he couldn’t handle on his own and the fallout of that interaction changed his community forever.
Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, known as “G.I. Joe” to his friends, was a well-respected member of the community and a good cop. An Army veteran, Charles had been an officer in the Fox Lake Police Dept. for more than 30 years. He and his family were happy and had deep roots in their Illinois community.
The Family Gliniewicz
Charles and his wife Melodie had four children and their eldest son D.J. was highly involved with his father’s work for the Fox Lake Police Department Explorer Post, which put young people who were interested in law enforcement careers, through training. After serving for 30 years on the force, Charles was looking forward to his impending retirement.
Along with his wife Melodie, Charles ran the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post. The place was a small segment of the Fox Lake Police Dept. and worked as a community outreach program for young people with an interest in law enforcement. It’s actually part of a nationwide program to teach young people about law enforcement work.
Call for Backup
On September 1, 2015, Officer Gliniewicz radioed to his dispatcher that he was chasing three suspicious men. There had been a rash of cop killings in the Fox Lake area in the previous months and it looked as though the 30-year veteran had finally honed in on some actual suspects. His dispatcher advised him not to pursue on his own…
Officer Charlie Gliniewicz was anything but a coward, so he pursued anyway. Later that night, his backup officers found him shot dead outside of his patrol car. The ensuing manhunt involved hundreds of law enforcement officials, including US marshals, and both FBI and ATF agents. Unfortunately, despite the fervor of the investigators, they could not track down the suspects.
The search turned up no leads, no arrests: not even a single suspect. Authorities had viewed surveillance video from several local homes and businesses in the area but couldn’t seem to locate any discernible clues that would lead them to officer Gliniewicz’s killers. They were still dealing with a cop-killer or killers, on the run…
Officer Gliniewicz’s death came in the midst of a series of high-profile killings of police officers. Darren Goforth, a Harris County Texas Sheriff’s deputy, had been shot and killed while refueling his cruiser at a Houston area gas station on August 28, just a few days earlier.
After a few weeks, investigators began to notice some abnormalities in the story of Officer Gliniewicz’s murder. Though the Army veteran’s body had been found about 50 yards from his squad car, all the area around the car seemed bereft of footprints. The probe stretched on, and though they publicly considered it a homicide investigation, there were some signs that pointed to suicide…
D.J. Gliniewicz, Charles’ 20-something son, angrily dismissed the allegations that his father had taken his own life. His father was close to retirement and was, by all accounts, a happy man with a perfect family. Still, as investigators peered deeper, they began to notice more and more signs that Officer Gliniewicz may indeed have ended his own life.
Why would he do it though? Why would a man who had everything take his own life? It didn’t make sense at all. The investigative team decided to look further into the Charles’ personal life, to see if there was some motive for suicide they might have been missing. What they found was shocking…
As it turned out, Anne Marrin, Fox Lake village’s administrator, had been auditing Fox Lake’s finances, which included all of those brought in and used by the Fox Lake Police Explorers program. This would have been a big problem for Officer Gliniewicz, who had been secretly embezzling from them for seven years.
Marrin had been pressing Officer Gliniewicz to see the Explorer’s Program books right up until the day he died. This information was more than enough for investigators to get access to the deceased officer’s phone records, including his text messages. The information they found within those messages was even more disquieting…
Recovered text messages and other records showed that Officer Gliniewicz had been using the embezzled funds for a number of frivolous and personal things such as: mortgage payments, travel expenses, gym memberships, withdrawing cash, and making loans. He’d even used some of it to subscribe to adult websites.
The investigators also found small packages of cocaine in his desk. Though the drugs were not linked to any case on the record, it is believed that Officer Gliniewicz was planning to plant the drugs in Marrin’s possession before she could expose him as an embezzler. If framing her didn’t work, he had a back-up plan…
Hiring a Hit Man
Detective Chris Covelli, who is part of the investigation revealed that Officer Gliniewicz had sent a text to a woman in April, asking her to contact a “high-ranking gang member to put a hit on the village manager.” His follow-up texts to the hit man even asked if the person could “plant something” on Marrin’s body once the deed was done.
Officer Gliniewicz was very careful towards the end. Before he shot himself, he made sure to delete thousands of text messages from his phone. He just hadn’t been careful enough. Marrin’s countless attempts to see the Explorer’s Program finances had been documented in the text messages on her phone as well…
Eventually, the police released a series of text and Facebook messages to unidentified individuals, which revealed more of Officer Gliniewicz’s feelings on the village administrator. In them, he called her a “power monger” and suggested that if she were to review an old checking account he would be in trouble.”
In one particularly damning exchange about Marrin, Officer Gliniewicz wrote he’s thought through “Many Scenarios … from planting things to the volo bog!!!” The Volo Bog State Natural Area being a swampy marsh near Fox Lake. Luckily for her, the officer decided to take his own life instead.
The investigation was now in full gear and an additional review of bank records, text messages, and Facebook messages soon uncovered some even more disturbing evidence. Officer Gliniewicz’s criminal activity may have also been committed by at least two other individuals.
Today, authorities are also investigating his wife, Melodie, and his eldest son D.J. as well. These two may have also been involved in Officer Gliniewicz’s many crimes. Tributes to their slain “hero” have come down and signs that once praised “G.I. Joe” have all but disappeared, replaced by new posters labeling him “G.I. Joke.”