The Illinois cop found shot to death in September, setting off a statewide manhunt for three suspects he had told dispatchers he was chasing, actually orchestrated a "carefully staged suicide," George Filenko, the commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said in a press conference Wednesday, CNN reports. That confirmed earlier reports that Joe Gliniewicz had killed himself, but what emerged at the presser was more shocking: that Gliniewicz had taken his own life after committing criminal acts, the AP notes. "Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal to the citizens he served and the entire law enforcement community," Filenko said, per the Daily Beast, adding that the police officer had "intentionally left a staged trail of police equipment at the crime scene."
Filenko tells the Daily Herald that the popular officer known as "GI Joe" stole and laundered somewhere in "the five figures" from the department's Explorer program—a training program for youth interested in a career in law enforcement—using it "as his personal bank account." Gliniewicz allegedly used the funds for gym memberships, travel, his mortgage, and adult websites. What helped crack the case: electronic messages deleted from his work and personal cellphones, Filenko adds. There were questions about Gliniewicz's death almost from the start, including that the fatal bullet had come from his own gun, as well as an initial refusal by the coroner to rule out suicide or an accident, CNN and the Daily Beast note. Now Filenko may have to walk back angry statements he made about the coroner—as well as justify the estimated $300,000 price tag for the manhunt.