Police in Lake County, Illinois dropped a bombshell on Wednesday in the perplexing case of a police officer who was found shot dead near his squad car after telling dispatchers he was chasing two mysterious men.
Calling it the "ultimate betrayal" to his fellow officers and community, George Filenko of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander revealed that fallen officer Charles Gliniewicz staged a murder in order to cover up his suicide after he laundered money from his department for seven years.
A massive manhunt ensued after Lieutenant Gliniewicz was found dead near his squad car Sept. 1, with two gunshots to the chest.
But in a press conference Wednesday morning, authorities said the shots were self-inflicted as part of "a carefully staged suicide."
According to Filenko, the 52-year-old was "under increasing levels of stress" due to scrutiny he was receiving from his superiors for what investigators have now called--following a months-long investigation--his "extensive criminal acts."
Those acts, Filenko revealed, included the theft of thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake Police Explorers. Filenko said Gliniewicz used the money on a range of things that included personal gym memberships and adult websites.
The shocking development comes after officials released findings in October that showed the 52-year-old Army veteran and 30-year police veteran had been shot with his own weapon.
Going on the assumption he was murdered, hundreds of officers had combed the rustic northern Illinois region's cabins and lakes with only a vague description of the suspects to go on.
But after staying on the case of weeks, investigators conceded they could not rule out suicide.
Elaborating on some of the evidence that led to their shocking conclusion, Filenko pointed to the lack of any signs Gliniewicz had been dragged at the scene or that the 30-year police veteran had fought for his life.
Filenko said Gliniewicz used the expertise he gained recreating crime scenes as a Police Explorer to stage his own murder.