Gliniewicz death investigators to coroner: Stop talking
Officials investigating the death of Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz warned Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd to stop releasing unconfirmed information that could "jeopardize" their case.
In a joint statement Thursday, Lake County Major Crime Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko and Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose said Rudd's release of information to the media is "completely outside of policy, procedure, protocols, and are completely unprofessional."
Rudd has not contacted investigators before releasing information, Filenko said in the release.
"Doctor Rudd, releasing information which is sensitive to this investigation, puts the entire case at risk," Filenko said. "All of the progress made since this tragic incident is potentially in jeopardy."
Rudd did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The statement comes after Rudd told media outlets Gliniewicz died because of a single "devastating" gunshot wound. He refused to say where the shot was or whether the veteran officer was hit with other shots, but he later told other media outlets Gliniewicz was shot in the torso.
Rudd also said he hasn't 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. He said he is leaning toward ruling the case a homicide, but he added the evidence he has now is incomplete.
And in at least one media report, Rudd questioned how a killer could get close enough to attack Gliniewicz, who had served in the military and was a longtime police officer.
"It is outrageous Doctor Rudd would speculate as to Lieutenant Gliniewicz's fighting abilities with absolutely no foundation or basis as to what took place at the crime scene," Rose said of the report.
Releasing sensitive case information while an investigation is underway is "completely irresponsible," Rose said.
In a news conference later Thursday, Lake County sheriff's spokesman Chris Covelli joined Filenko in reiterating that further details are not ready to be released to the public.
"There are still crucial pieces of evidence being analyzed by the crime lab where we don't have results, and we're not close to the point of reaching the conclusion," Covelli said.
It's been more than a week since Gliniewicz, a 30-year police veteran, was found dead of a gunshot wound at the east end of Honing Road, and investigators said they are continuing to search for three suspects.
Gliniewicz, 52, radioed a dispatcher that he saw three men -- two white and one black -- acting suspiciously at 7:52 a.m. Sept. 1, authorities said. He called back three minutes later saying the men ran into a swampy area and that he was in a foot chase and needed backup.
Officers found Gliniewicz 14 minutes later, about 50 yards from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at 8:25 a.m., authorities said.
Filenko 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 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.
On Thursday, authorities confirmed more than one gunshot was fired at the scene, but they provided no additional details.
Investigators announced this week that a touch DNA strand determined to be from someone other than Gliniewicz was recovered at the scene by evidence technicians. The evidence has been sent to the crime lab for study.
Fox Lake village officials said Thursday that Gliniewicz's death was not linked to an internal police department investigation, as some have speculated.
Mayor Donny Schmit said that investigation stemmed from a December incident involving a police officer in the Fox Lake jail. Schmit said Gliniewicz was not the police officer involved or the commander investigating the complaint.
"Lieutenant Gliniewicz was not part of the internal investigation, had absolutely nothing to do with the incident in question, and was not due to be charged, placed on suspension, or even interviewed as part of the investigation," Schmit said. "These two incidents are not linked in any way at all."
He said one officer remains on paid administrative leave due to the internal investigation. Former Fox Lake Police Chief Mike Behan retired while the internal investigation was taking place. The village will turn over its findings to any appropriate agencies when the internal investigation is complete, Schmit said.
Fox Lake officials also initiated "an inventory review" of police processes, procedures, supplies, facilities, vehicles and available equipment after Behan's retirement, officials said in a statement. The review was to gather information about operations and assets to aid in a smooth transition to a new police chief.
The "clean slate" review is standard and is considered a best practice whenever there is a change in leadership at a law enforcement agency, officials said. Gliniewicz assisted in the review but was not leading it, officials said.
Schmit said he has been troubled by reports speculating Gliniewicz's cause of death. Gliniewicz was set to retire at the end of September.
"At this point in time I have absolutely no reason to believe this was anything other than a heinous murder of our officer," Schmit said. "Anyone who knew Joe Gliniewicz would know the accusations being made are completely unfounded. He was an outstanding officer, and a credit to our community who was looking forward to his retirement and continuing his work with the Explorers."