Lake County Crime Task Force Head George Filenko Retires Just Before Calusinski Case Goes to New Trial

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Lake County Detective George Filenko talked with CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez about his decision to step down as head of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and said he has “No Regrets” about Gliniewicz, Calusinski investigations

George Filenko, who led the investigation into the staged suicide of Fox Lake Police Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz, and who tersely criticized Chicago and national media while being pressed for details on the Gliniewicz case, is resigning after serving 11 years on the task force, and recently six years as the task force commander. Filenko is credited with having worked hard in his career with investigations of about 200 homicides — sacrificing holidays, weekends and nights along the way.

During the two months after Gliniewicz was found dead with suspicious circumstances surrounding his response to “suspicious subjects” in a desolate area of Fox Lake, and while insider leaks hinted that the end result of the investigation would be suicide, Filenko often appeared agitated by questions from the news media. He publicly repeated time and again that the task force was working on a homicide, but had not ruled out suicide.

Additionally, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd was criticized by the Lake County Task Force for releasing information without consulting the Task Force about the Gliniewicz gunshot wound and for revealing that suicide was not ruled out. Regarding the release of information, Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko said, “We have not been contacted by or had communication with Doctor Rudd.” He went on to say, “Doctor Rudd, releasing information which is sensitive to this investigation, puts the entire case at risk. All of the progress made since this tragic incident is potentially in jeopardy. This is an active investigation and it’s inappropriate for anyone other than the investigating body to release information to the media, prior to providing a final written report of the findings, or even having a conversation with the Task Force.”

Task force investigators also met with pathologist Manny Montez who performed the autopsy on Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz without Dr. Thomas Rudd’s knowledge, even though Montez’s role was to report his autopsy findings to Rudd, who would make the final determination about the cause of Glieniewicz’s death.

According to a report from the Daily Herald, more than $300,000 in tax money was spent on the Gliniewicz investigation, which officials eventually ruled was a suicide staged to look like murder while Gliniewicz was about to be exposed for embezzling money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer group that he supervised.

A police ceremonial funeral was attended by over 5,000 police officers from across the United States, and thousands of mourners stood along the streets and in their yards. The funeral procession involved over 1,600 police cars that took hours to travel the 18-mile route from the memorial service at Antioch Community High School to the cemetery. Gliniewicz was hailed as a hero and was remembered as the latest officer to be killed in the line of duty, while police insiders secretly knew that the investigation was leading to a suicide ruling.

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reveals important information that could shed new light on the death of Ben Kingan. Convicted for Kingan’s death, Melissa Calusinski says detective Filenko “Made A Mistake”

Upcoming New Trial for Melissa Calusinski
Filenko was also one of two police interrogators who questioned Lincolnshire daycare worker Melissa Calusinski, who is now in prison after being convicted of killing a child at the daycare center.

Melissa Calusinski is serving 31 years in prison for murder in the death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan. Prosecutors charged she threw the boy to the floor at a Lincolnshire daycare center in 2009. Calusinski confessed to throwing the toddler on the floor during a 9-hour interrogation with no meals and without an attorney present.

“It’s easy from the outside to say, ‘Oh, I’d never do it.’ [Make a false confession] And then the answer is, ‘Yeah, but you’ve never been in that spot.’…You haven’t been pinned in a room with these two big detectives. …You’ve never been the last one in a room with a child that’s dying.”

— Melissa’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner

Last year, Calusinski’s attorneys launched a bid for a new trial, after Lake County Coroner Rudd stated that newly found X-rays showed that Benjamin Kingan suffered from a pre-existing injury when he died. Dr. Thomas Rudd, a new Lake County coroner since the one that served during the 2009 case, expressed disagreement with the previous coroner’s finding that there was no previous head injury of the victim, Benjamin Kingan. Rudd examined evidence and found signs of a previous injury.

On 48 Hours on CBS, Rudd said the former coroner Dr. Eupil Choi made a glaring error when he said Ben was severely injured on the day he died. “It’s obvious that injury was old.” Rudd also said there was no sign of a skull fracture, as previously determined, and changed the cause of death of Benjamin Kingan from “homicide” to “undetermined.”

Rudd said on 48 hours, “I do not see any evidence that she (Calusinki) did it (killed Benjamin) other than her confession.” Melissa now says she can’t explain why she told police she killed Benjamin Kingan.

The Benjamin Kingan murder investigation was wrapped up in about 14 short investigation hours after Melissa Calusinski spent 9 long interrogation hours with police without her parents or a lawyer or a meal.

She confessed while under pressure, but then immediately recanted during transfer in a police car. The recantation was apparently ignored even though the interrogators, Det. Sean Curran and Det. George Filenko continuously rejected her initial denials.

Comments by Filenko During Calusinski Interrogation

All you need to do is tell us the truth and we’re done.

You know 100 percent. We know what happened, but we need you to tell us. Tell us what happened.

We’re not going anywhere until we get the facts here.

We’re gonna give you another opportunity… to either be a good witness or a co-conspirator in a murder.

That story you’re giving us is a load of s—…

We’re not here to condemn you. We’re not here to put you in jail…

The doctor’s telling us that there’s a lot more to this than just that.

Medical evidence … it just doesn’t lie.

This is absolutely crap. That may have happened … But that’s not what caused the injury.

Show us how angry you were, and show us what happened, and let’s just get this over with and move on.

Not much longer … We’re on the phone right now. We’re trying to get this done as quickly as possible (when Melissa asked Filenko, “I’m just kind of curious, how long much more, ’cause …”).

Melissa’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner also says Benjamin’s injuries are inconsistent with the mechanism of injury described by her confession.

Lake County prosecutors are fighting the new trial, and have said the X-ray evidence cited by the defense is actually old evidence Calusinski’s attorneys had electronically enhanced. Prosecutors say the presence of old injuries do not change the jury’s finding that Calusinski threw Benjamin to the floor.

Melissa Calusinski recalls “Nightmare” Interrogation in toddler’s death that led to a confession and the conviction of the murder of toddler Ben Kingan.

See also …

NBC News Authorities: ‘Struggle Took Place’ Before Fox Lake, Illinois Officer Was Shot to Death

Chicago Tribune Fox Lake officer’s fatal wound was to his torso: coroner

Chicago Tribune Police blast coroner for releasing details about Fox Lake officer’s death

Daily Herald How much is Gliniewicz investigation costing taxpayers?

Woodstock Independent Woodstock Spent $2,100 in Gliniewicz Saga

FOX 32 Chicago Wife, son of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz are under criminal investigation

CBS Chicago Calusinski’s Bid For New Trial Will Wait Until March


NBC 5 Chicago Coroner: X-Rays Show Toddler’s Daycare Death May Not Have Been Worker’s Fault

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