CHICAGO — On the day he died, officer Charles Joseph Gliniewicz radioed to a police dispatcher that he was in pursuit of three suspicious men. Moments later, fellow officers found his body and launched a manhunt for his killers.
Three weeks after the lieutenant was shot to death in a remote part of northern Illinois, investigators have revealed little about their investigation, saying they are still awaiting lab results, despite the urgency with which police slayings are usually handled.
And the coroner says he has been unable to rule the matter a homicide, suicide or an accident — a stance that has deepened longstanding tensions between him and local law enforcement.
"There are no developments," said Detective Chris Covelli, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff's Office, repeating a comment he's made for days.
Authorities have made no arrests or identified any suspects. The apparent lack of progress has raised concerns about the investigation and left the public in the dark about whether there's a killer on the loose. The coroner and the chief investigator were to meet in person this week for the first time to discuss the death of the popular officer known affectionately around the village of Fox Lake as "G.I. Joe."
The first hint of trouble came when Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd announced that Gliniewicz had been killed by a "single devastating" gunshot wound to his chest, a detail that the head of the task force investigating the case had jealously guarded for several days.
Rudd put "the entire case at risk" by releasing that information, said a furious Lake County Major Crime Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko.
Days later, Rudd learned that investigators had summoned the pathologist in the case without inviting Rudd or even telling him about the meeting.
Until last week, Rudd said, he had not talked to Filenko at all during the course of the investigation nor for several months before that. He would not comment on any friction between the two. Filenko did not return repeated calls seeking comment.
The men are also involved in another dispute that arose when Rudd recently reclassified the 2009 death of a toddler from homicide to undetermined in a case that involved a day care worker who was convicted of first-degree murder. Filenko helped get a confession from her.
In the officer's death, authorities have said three men whose images were captured by a nearby home surveillance camera did not kill Gliniewicz, and DNA found at the scene came from Gliniewicz and an "unknown donor."
But perhaps the biggest source of questions can be traced back to Rudd's comment that because he had not received the task force's report, he could not rule out the possibility that Gliniewicz's death was a suicide or an accident.
Covelli also left the door open to suicide, saying that while the case was being investigated as a homicide, detectives will follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Gliniewicz's family has dismissed any possibility that he took his own life.
Son D.J. Gliniewicz said his father "never once" thought of suicide and told the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago that the officer was trying to decide if he wanted to visit Lake Tahoe or Vermont. The son said his father had also applied for several chief-of-police positions.
Though the Gliniewicz family reserved most of its anger for Rudd, the task force has contributed to the speculation.
Both Covelli and Filenko said the task force continues to wait for scientific evidence tests. But other police officers quietly acknowledge that anytime an officer is killed, the case goes to the front of the line for lab work.
A forensics expert agrees.
"This is given the highest priority," said Larry Kobilinsky, professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "Everything else is dropped, and it gets looked at immediately."
Investigators could quiet speculation about suicide if they simply announced whether the bullet that struck the lieutenant's chest came from his own gun. If another gun was used — a gun not recovered from the scene — then it would be far less likely that Gliniewicz took his own life.
But Covelli said Monday in an email that investigators have not yet seen the results of tests conducted on Gliniewicz's gun, which was found near his body.
Even absent all the sophisticated tests, Kobilinsky said, detectives could be reasonably sure within days if the gun was used.
They would know, for example, whether his gun was fired, whether the caliber of the bullets in his gun matched the caliber of the bullets from the scene or retrieved from the body. Those tests can be done quickly.
"There is no doubt in my mind as to whether they know it was his gun or not," he said.