On a clear September morning, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was found shot to death in a heavily wooded area off a gravel side street in Fox Lake, Ill., a small suburb of Chicago. Minutes earlier, Gliniewicz had radioed from his unit that three suspicious male subjects were observed near an
abandoned cement plant that abutted a swamp. Gliniewicz reported over the radio that the group had
taken off toward the swamp.
During Dispatch: Do you need a second unit?
Gliniewicz: 10-4. Go ahead and start.
At 8:05 A.M., responding officers spotted Gliniewicz’s unmarked unit, and entered the overgrown
woods. The officers heard what they believed to be a single, muffled gunshot. They proceeded cautiously
along the pathway until they reached a clearing 200 feet into the woods. There was Gliniewicz’s body, face
down. Along with his pepper spray, his holster was empty and his weapon was missing. They rolled his
body over and checked for a pulse.
The Lake County, Ill. Sheriff’s Office arrived and declared the case an active-shooter event, and a
homicide investigation with on-scene command. The responding officers were advised to use caution—the
offenders could still be in the area. A loose perimeter was established approximately 1.5 hours into the
incident, and a 2.5-mile secure perimeter was established around the entire wooded and swamp area. The
two-month long investigation into the shooting death of Charles Gliniewicz was about to begin.
Securing the Crime Scene
In the hours that followed Gliniewicz’s death, over 400 local, state and federal officers conducted a massive
manhunt for the alleged shooter or shooters. There were 48 K- 9 teams from different jurisdictions in the
search, and five air craft that including four helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft. The terrain was so
thick that the searching officers could barely see one another. Dozens of state and federal agents joined the
local police, and a no-fly zone was established. Schools were locked down; commuter trains screeched to a
halt. The small town of Fox Lake looked like a warzone.
The Lake County Major Crime Task Force took control of the scene, but they could not allow the
evidence response technicians (ERT) access to the crime scene for several hours. Because of the possibility
that an active shooter was still in the area, the team was eventually escorted to the scene by a tactical unit.
The terrain made the search tedious and time-consuming. However, the ERT teams were able to trace the
steps of Gliniewicz from his vehicle to where he was found. Each area of interest identified by orange cones
or markers began to suggest Gliniewicz was confronted by assailants and a struggle ensued:
; His pepper spray had been activated near the top of the path.
; A police baton was found lying in the brush.
; Sunglasses lying in the brush perhaps lost during a struggle.
; A spent shell casing was eventually matched to his H&K .40 caliber semi-auto weapon.
The ERTs then processed the location where Gliniewicz’s body was found. Before bagging Gliniewicz’s
hands for transport a field test for gun-shot residue was done. A systematic search of the area surrounding
the body revealed that Gliniewicz’s gun was found tossed into the underbrush.
Crime Scene Staging
“Staging a scene occurs when the perpetrator purposely alters the crime scene to mislead the authorities
and/or redirect the investigation. Staging is a conscious criminal action on the part of an offender to
thwart an investigation.”1