'Devastating' gunshot wound killed Fox Lake cop, coroner says
Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd said Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz died from "a single devastating gunshot wound," but he would not comment on the location of the fatal wound or how many times the veteran police officer may have been shot.
Rudd also said he hasn't yet issued a final report on the manner of death -- homicide, suicide or accident -- because he hasn't received a final report on the investigation from the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.
"I can't determine any manner of death without the law enforcement report," Rudd said.
It was "highly unlikely" Gliniewicz died from an accident, Rudd said, and he added he is "leaning toward homicide." However, if he had to rule on the case with the evidence he knows now, he said he would rule the manner of death undetermined.
Police would not comment on the coroner's comments, citing the ongoing investigation.
It's been more than a week since the 30-year police veteran was found dead, but no one is in custody and police have released few details in the investigation.
Gliniewicz, 52, died Sept. 1 in a swampy area near an old cement factory in Fox Lake not long after he radioed a dispatcher that he saw three men -- two white and one black -- acting suspiciously on Honing Road at 7:52 a.m., authorities said. He called back three minutes later and said he was in a foot chase and required backup.
Officers found Gliniewicz 14 minutes later, about 50 yards from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at 8:25 a.m., authorities said.
George Filenko, the Task Force commander, previously confirmed Gliniewicz's .40-caliber handgun was recovered at the scene, but he has refused to comment on any evidence recovered with the weapon. He has refused to say whether Gliniewicz was killed with his own gun, how many shots were fired, and where he was hit. He also has refused to discuss details about whether other fingerprints or DNA were recovered from the weapon and where it was found.
Investigators recently announced two major pieces of evidence they were pursuing in an effort to identify the three suspects Gliniewicz reported to the dispatcher before he died.
One was surveillance video from the vicinity of the death scene that was determined to be a bust after the three people who fit Gliniewicz's description were questioned and released because all of them had evidence -- timestamped receipts -- showing they went to a different location.
The second was a touch DNA strand determined to be from someone other than Gliniewicz recovered at the scene by evidence technicians. The evidence has been sent to the Northern Illinois Crime Lab for study. The only way to get a confirmed match is if the donor of the DNA is in a nationwide DNA database, Filenko has said.
Talking to the Patch news service, Rudd questioned whether a killer could get close enough to attack Gliniewicz, who was a soldier as well as a longtime police officer.
"This is an Army man," Rudd told Patch.com. "He's 52, (but) he's got the body of a 25-year-old. When you're in the armed forces, obviously, you're trained how to kill."
And if Gliniewicz was in a fatal struggle, "he's going to rip out the guy's eyes or his throat," he said.
"This whole thing is getting a little sticky as far as the cause and manner of death," the coroner told Patch.com. "... This is a tough case. Emotions play a lot in this."