One Year Later: The Dead Cop Who Started a National Manhunt


“It was a betrayal to the profession and the community.” That’s how Fox Lake, Illinois Police Detective Chris Covelli describes Police Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz’s staged “on-the-job” suicide to make it look like it was a murder.

As some may recall, Gliniewicz’s death last Labor Day weekend sparked a massive investigation and nationwide manhunt for three “killers” who didn’t exist. Now, one year later, Fox Lake officials are still picking up the pieces of the insane event.

On Sept. 1, 2015, 52-year-old Gliniewicz radioed in from his cruiser in a rural area that he was investigating on three suspicious men, two white and one black. Not too long after the call, Gliniewicz was found shot to death. One bullet hit his bulletproof vest, but the other struck him below the vest into his heart. His belongings were found scattered around the swampy area, leading investigators to believe the officer engaged in a struggle match with the supposed suspects.

What came next was unbelievable. In a stunning twist, police discovered Gliniewicz carefully staged his suicide to look like murder. Investigators learned the corrupt cop apparently lived a shocking double life for two decades before finally putting a bullet into himself.

Investigators unveiled that Gliniewicz was truly a corrupt man. After he embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the Fox Lake Explorer program, the ‘police academy for teens’ that praised him as an idol, Gliniewicz then used the money for vacations, car repairs and even adult pornographic websites. Gliniewicz had extramarital affairs and arranged for his own mistress to marry his son in order to gain added military benefits.

Gliniewicz also contacted an assassin to have Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin murdered. “It’s unheard of in our profession that anyone would think to do something like that and it just shows the emotional state that he must have been in over all of this and knowing that we were getting closer to finding out what was really going on… It’s crazy. I can’t describe it any other way,” Marrin said about the revelation.

Officers concluded his wife, Melodie Gliniewicz, was a partner in her husband’s crimes. She initially hailed her husband as a hero following his death, but she was found to be equally corrupt and guilty. The couple took an estimated $9,000 vacation to Hawaii, on the Explorer program’s dime. Melodie Gliniewicz was indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy, felony money laundering and misuse of charitable funds.

Unfortunately, the timing of the unnerving investigation into the death of Gliniewicz came amid tensions between police and citizens in communities around the country, as the “Blue Lives Matter” movement came under scrutiny. Marrin says Gliniewicz’s death only further hindered public support for police. “Because of the betrayal, nationwide, it was a terrible thing that message was lost,” Marrin said. “The worst part fell upon our police department. They had to carry the stigma of what that wayward officer did and that’s unfair.”


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