A police officer who was thought to have been killed by a suspect actually committed suicide and made it look like he was murdered.
Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz, 52, of Illinois' Fox Lake Police Department requested backup while he said he was pursuing three men on foot at 7:55 am on September 1, CNN reports.
Help arrived a few minutes later to find Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran of the force who previously served in the Army, dead in a marshy area after being shot.
The death was initially treated as a homicide, and over 400 law enforcement officers searched the area for Gliniewicz's killer.
The officers found the three men Gliniewicz might have described in his last radio call but soon ruled them out as suspects.
According to Associated Press, some authorities dismissed the likelihood of the father of four committing suicide, largely because he was a local hero who told his family he greatly looked forward to his upcoming retirement.
But earlier today, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko announced the death was officially ruled "a carefully staged suicide."
Gliniewicz, or "GI Joe" as he was locally known, appears to have killed himself out of fear of being exposed as a criminal.
He allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from Fox Lake's Explorers program, which provides mentorship and field experience for aspiring police officers.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the money was acquired over the course of at least seven years and spent on mortgage payments, travel and adult websites.
Gliniewicz, who ran the program for years, also reportedly forged signatures on federal requisitions for police equipment.
Filenko said, at the time of the suicide, Fox Lake was performing an audit with the potential to reveal his criminal activity.
Gliniewicz fired one shot into his bulletproof vest and placed equipment around the scene to give the impression he was killed during a struggle.
Filenko told reporters,
There are no winners here. Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal... He behaved for years in a manner contrary to the image he portrayed.
At least two others are thought to have been involved in Gliniewicz's crimes but were not yet charged.
With no knowledge of the crimes, police officers from over 1,000 departments attended Gliniewicz's funeral where mourners spent hours waiting in line to give condolences to his family.
Citations: Death of Fox Lake officer a carefully staged suicide (CNN), Fox Lake cop staged suicide to cover criminal acts officials (Chicago Tribune), ed a Illinois cops death will be declarsuicide (Associated Press)