Today marks anniversary of Fox Lake officer death, scandal

FOX LAKE, Ill. -- Thursday marks the anniversary of the stunning death of Fox Lake police officer Charles Joseph “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz.

The case drew national attention to the small town for months.

Even a year later, residents of Fox Lake say there is still a sense of shock and disbelief but also a readiness to move on.

On September 1, 2015, Lt Gliniewicz called into the station to report he was following three possible suspects in this wooded area. That was the last he was ever heard from. A short time later, fellow officers discovered the 52-year-old with a fatal gunshot wound.

Village Administrator Anne Marrin recalls the massive manhunt that spread through Fox Lake, the schools placed on lockdown and the waves of police officers and federal agents that came to assist.

On the day that it happened, I was stunned,” she said. “It was just a whirlwind of activity.”

The suspects Gliniewicz spoke of were never found.

Days later, residents lined the streets to mourn the man they knew as “G.I. Joe.”

Governor Bruce Rauner attended the funeral and ordered flags at all state buildings be flown at half-staff.

Finally in early November, investigators said they believed Gliniewicz staged his own suicide after years of stealing from the Police Explorers Program.

Gliniewicz’s family was now also under investigation.

New revelations surfaced about Gliniewicz‘s history of sexual harassment and scheming, which included orchestrating a sham marriage for his son, simply to boost his military benefits.

Then new reports emerged suggested he had looked into putting “a hit” on Marrin, who was examining police finances.

A year later, Fox Lake residents say they cannot square the story with the man they knew.

Marrin says, while it will always be part of village lore, the story of Fox Lake is much more than the saga of G.I. Joe Gliniewicz.

“We don’t want that stigma and we don’t deserve that stigma of being known for what a wayward cop did,” she said.

Earlier this year, Melodie Gliniwicz was indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and misuse of charitable finds.   She has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a November trial.