The Village of Fox Lake is working through almost 50,000 pages of documents and other items, related to the Sept. 1 suicide-ruled death of Lt. Charles Gliniewicz, in response to submissions under the Freedom of Information Act submissions from numerous parties, including the McHenry Chronicle. The project has also shed some light on that day, through interview narratives of responding officers to the crime scene.
It also culminates nearly two months of attempting to locate the materials to honor FOIA requests, which were held by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. Although their investigation kept homicide at the forefront, efforts were concluded by the Nov. 4 press conference, where its commander, George Filenko, announced the findings of a “carefully staged suicide” to mask a homicide.
The documents, assigned as Case#15-7, were delivered to the village’s Administrator Anne Marrin, around Dec. 18, and placed under her authority for dissemination.
“There are 50,000 pages on a 2 terabyte hard drive, and all of it has to be reviewed, for release, and any redactions which need to be made,” she said. “We all sat down, when it was delivered, and they (task force) discussed how difficult it was to compile everything in such a short time.
“It’s going to be a long procedure in trying to expedite the release of the information to honor all of the FOIA requests. There are only two of us working on this project.”
The furtive Jan. 4 release was an 18-page narrative summary, with redacted sections, obtained by the McHenry Chronicle, that was gleaned from investigator interviews of the responding Fox Lake police officers to the Sept. 1 Gliniewicz crime scene, in the woods off Honing Road.
“I have confirmed with the Deputy Chief (Scot Kurek) that the attached records provided are those created by Fox Lake officers for this case,” said Tara Semenchuk, assistant village administrator, in an email response. “The narratives that were sent out … included narratives by (Russell) Ebbing, (Dawn) DeServi, (Richard) Howell, (Shane) Campion and (Mark) Schindler, as provided by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.”
Gliniewicz had radioed for backup, as he was pursuing three individuals on foot, and was found shot, face down. Ebbing recounted that he heard a “muffled pop,” which he identified as gunfire, due to his armed forces background. Several officers indicated they were two to three minutes from the scene, as they advanced toward the direction of the sound.
Lt. Mark Schindler, the interim police chief, following former chief Michael Behan’s late August placement on administrative leave, broke down and had to be pulled away from the body. Dark blood was on Gliniewicz’s chin, and Deservi, a former fire department member and trained paramedic, found no pulse on his neck or wrist.
“She also observed what she considered the ‘death stare’ in Gliniewicz’s open eyes, and ‘death blood’ on (his) face,” according to the narratives. “She observed the shot to (his) cell phone in a pocket on the lower right side of the vest … it did not appear to be a fatal wound.”
At a Nov. 4 press conference, Lake County coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd explained that an initial shot in that area had incapacitated him, prior to the fatal shot. At the scene, Deservi searched but could not locate the latter wound, and refused to further tamper with potential evidence by removing his protective vest.
Discussion between the five officers involved the potential of suicide, but it was dismissed due to the nature of Gliniewicz’s personality. None of the officers moved away from the crime scene until K9 units arrived, and a massive three-day manhunt for the three individuals was begun. The scene and surrounding areas that encircled a shuttered cement factory along the road were combed by more than 400 law enforcement personnel, according to the task force.
Investigators interviewing Deservi asked if there were any previous contacts in the area. She stated that prior information was passed along to the task force about “a known local drug dealer (name redacted) would be capable of committing an execution-style murder.” The narrative continued that she believed the person “was previously wanted for involvement in a shooting case and also recalls Lt. Gliniewicz providing intelligence at some point naming (name redacted) as a supplier in the area.”
The task force continued for the next two months, offering sketchy information and updates, while the thrust of their work was conducted as a homicide investigation.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Filenko had said. During the timespan, the task force’s Spokesperson Chris Covelli added, ”Nothing is off the table,” in reference to suicide rumors.
An ongoing tangential investigation involving the Lake County sheriff’s department detectives over the misuse of Explorer Post 300 bank accounts, handled by Gliniewicz, is proceeding. The task force proposed that the financial malfeasance propelled his actions.
Marrin had initiated an inventory audit of all assets in the village’s holdings, and had asked Gliniewicz several times for the post’s bank records and a listing of the post’s physical property. He had indicated the information would be provided Sept. 1, the date of his death.
“We’re still going through all of these documents to honor the FOIA requests,” said Marrin. “But there are parts of this investigation that are still active and moving forward. So we have to be judicious.”
— Village of Fox Lake sifts through Gliniewicz docs for release —