Lt. Joe Gliniewicz: Hero to Criminal

By Deanna Stone

The Crown(Wilmette, Illinois)

On Sep. 1, 2015, Lt. Charles Joseph “Joe” Gliniewicz was on duty in the small Illinois town of Fox Lake.  Police records indicate that at 7:31 am, Gliniewicz was in pursuit of three suspects. Gliniewicz called for police backup from his patrol radio at 7:52 am. Several minutes later, his requested backup arrived to find Gliniewicz dead and the three suspects nowhere to be found. Quickly, a 400 officer manhunt for the three suspects took place lasting nearly  14 hours.

The town, and the nation, was devastated by the death of Lt. Gliniewicz. He was known to be a beloved family man, with a wife and four children. He was considered a great officer by his peers and by the community. He was also the adviser for a career outreach program for children thinking about a career in law enforcement called “The Fox Lake Law Enforcement Explorer Post.”

His funeral made national news with police officers coming from across the country to pay their respects.

After 14 hours and countless searches, the massive manhunt for the three suspects did not yield any results. Police studied the scene of the crime. All indications pointed to a homicide. Gliniewicz’s baton, pepper spray, and gun were strewn around the scene looking as if there had been a struggle. However, discrepancies occurred when his uniform was not disheveled nor was his body marked by any cuts or wounds. As the investigation continued, the police determined that Gliniewicz had committed suicide and had faked his pursuit of three men.That revelation ended the manhunt.

The breakthrough in the case came when investigators uncovered that Gliniewicz was stealing money from the Career Outreach Program that he had run for seven years. Police determined that Gliniewicz was under pressure by an upcoming financial audit that could have revealed his secret.

Additionally, the officers recovered thousands of deleted text messages from Gliniewicz’s cell phone that detailed his laundering and use of the Explorer’s funds. The messages also detail the plans that Gliniewicz shared with his wife, Melodie, and his son, D.J.  They are both being investigated for criminal activity.

The investigation of Gliniewicz also found that he had an “arrestable” amount of cocaine in his desk and that he may have been planning the murder of a Fox Lake administrator.

Also, Gliniewicz planned to retire in August of 2015, but was asked to stay on the force for another month, so he felt pressure there as well.

After the accusations against Gliniewicz had been proven, many benefits given to his family have been revoked. A group that donated a total of $15,000 to the family is calling for a refund. The 100 Club of Chicago, an organization that helps families of first responders killed in the line of duty, have asked the Gliniewicz family to return the money that they gave to them. Authorities have said that over 25,000 hours were spent on the investigation. Law enforcement has issued a freeze on all accounts of the Glinieiwcz family as the investigation continues.

The criminal activities of Joe Gliniewicz has created outrage from the community of Fox Lake and followers of this story. In one week, there were signs around the town praising Gliniewicz for his life service and dedication. The next week, those signs were taken down and replaced with posters disgracing him.

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz went from fallen hero killed in the line of duty to a crooked man that duped everyone around him.

Photo Credit: NBC NEWS

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (

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