Probe into death of Illinois police officer reaches tragic conclusion

Authorities are expected to announce the 'conclusive results' of the two-month long investigation at a news conference Wednesday.

Nam Y. Huh/AP/File
Police officers and others salute as the family of Fox Lake police officer Lt. Joe Gliniewicz leave after a vigil for him in Fox Lake, Ill., Sept. 2. Lieutenant Gliniewicz was believed to have been killed by suspects he had been pursuing, but a two-month investigation indicates that he in fact died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities are expected to announce on Wednesday.

The death of a northern Illinois police officer that led to a manhunt last September was a suicide, an anonymous source familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. Authorities are expected to announce the "conclusive results" of the two-month-long investigation at a news conference Wednesday. Local media in Chicago also is reporting the highly-respected Fox Lake cop died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, all citing anonymous sources.

On Sept. 1, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz radioed in that he was in pursuit of three males on foot. Responders lost contact with the cop but police officers later found him about 50 yards from his squad car with a fatal gunshot wound and his .40 caliber handgun nearby, in a marsh near the Wisconsin border.

A manhunt spanned several days. Schools were closed as law enforcement scoured houses, boats, and a string of lakes in the Fox Lake area. Law enforcement released descriptions of three suspects, but no arrests were ever made. At the time, the coroner in the case said he could not rule out suicide, but Lieutenant Gliniewicz's wife dismissed those claims later as "hurtful and irresponsible." About a month into the investigation, authorities said Gliniewicz had been shot with his own weapon, but that they were not able to determine if the wound had been self-inflicted. More than 100 investigators worked the case for weeks.

Gliniewicz, a father of four and a US Army veteran, was nicknamed "G.I. Joe" in his community, and was considered by many to be a role model to up-and-coming law enforcement officers within his department, where he was an officer for 30 years. He was scheduled to retire in just a few weeks.

Following the shooting at Fox Lake, a village of about 10,000 roughly 50 miles north of Chicago, flags flew at half-staff, and signs with the officer's picture hung in storefront windows. Even after news broke late Tuesday night that Gliniewicz died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, residents of the community were still skeptical. 

Crystal Moore, of Fox Lake, told the Chicago Tribune that "many unanswered questions remain."

"It's a really messed-up case, and really sad for the community," she said. "I respect him, and I think he's a hero."

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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