The Chicago Tribune looks back at the bizarre staged suicide last Sept. 1 of longtime Fox Lake, Ill., police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. He was found by fellow officers shot to death in a remote, wooded area in the small town north of Chicago. Moments earlier, he had radioed a dispatcher to say he was chasing three men on foot. A few days later, thousands of people lined the streets and officers flew in from throughout the country to honor Gliniewicz — the 30-year department veteran known for his military bearing and his nickname “G.I. Joe” — as a fallen hero. The arrangements included an 18-mile procession, a helicopter flyover and a rifle volley. People tied ribbons around their trees and posted signs throughout town in his honor.
Within months, authorities would announce that Gliniewicz took his own life, carefully staging the scene to make it appear a homicide. They said he did it to try to cover up the thousands of dollars he had stolen from the Explorers youth policing program he had run in town for years. Melodie Gliniewicz, the widow who publicly grieved over her husband’s body, would be charged with a felony, with authorities alleging she participated in her husband’s Explorers fund scheme. She awaits trial and has pleaded not guilty. The fallout didn’t end there. The Explorers program was disbanded. Melodie Gliniewicz’s request for her husband’s pension might prompt a change in state law. Three men who said they were harassed by police in the early days of the investigation — two black and one Hispanic — have sued the village, which has settled with one of the plaintiffs for $65,000. Other payouts are being negotiated, officials confirmed. And in the realm of forensic investigators, Gliniewicz’s suicide would become a textbook example of crime-scene staging.