The one police official who spear-headed the February 2008 investigation into the murder of local attorney Gregory Clark and determined it’s on-going direction and focus; the past Rockford Police Deputy, Gregory Lindmark, apparently took his own life by suicide this past week on February 9, 2015.
Now, we are not generally fanciful, but cannot fail to note certain eerie coincidences and similarities between Lindmark’s own death and the death some seven years previous of attorney Clark. Certainly, there is some irony to note at work here. We’ve put together these reflections and readers are welcome to add your comments to our own.
Like Attorney Clark’s death, Greg Lindmark’s own death was totally unexpected, and similarly, the event has rocked the Rockford law-enforcement community to it’s core. As in Clark’s own death, Lindmark appears to be the victim of senseless gun violence; although self-inflicted. His death is also filled with unanswered questions and contradictions and eerily, it has occurred almost seven years to the exact February 6, 2008, date of the major murder investigation he first initiated and then remained most closely connected in importance to. What are we to make of this incident and what conclusions are we to draw from it?
Report of Greg Lindmark’s death on February 9, 2015
Greg Lindmark relinquished control of the Greg Clark murder investigation and retired from his leadership role in the Rockford Police Department in 2011. He left, turning control of the Clark investigation over to his colleague, David Hopkins, in the department, who he associated with early on in his career and who has also risen into police leadership.
Lindmark left the Rockford Police Department for quiet retirement and family life with his second wife, Sheryl, but apparently he could not stay inactive for long. He was prevailed upon, shortly afterward to return to work and a new job assisting the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office by establishing and heading up it’s investigatory staff in the position of chief SA investigator; a job which colleagues say he reportedly loved till his death at age 53.
Greg Lindmark’s life and work was eulogized this past week at his funeral by his police comrades in many respects as being the epitome of what any police cadet should aspire to: a hard-worker who rose rapidly thru the rnnks, meticulous in detail (whether washing his cars or working on cases) and a individual who cared deeply about and was supportive of others (his co-workers and the many crime victims he assisted).
Funeral arrangements for Lindmark
Hundreds turn out for funeral
The question is, as to why this death should have occurred in the first place and what are some of the ramifications it leaves for the future.
Audience mourners attending his February 13, 2015, funeral were instructed by the presiding clergy that, Greg Lindmark touched their lives forever and to go forth and reflect upon that fact. Certainly Greg’s life and actions also touched our own; and we too carry forward with us some part of ourselves which he will have forever altered-just not perhaps in the same manner as his friends and family.
Earliest recollections of Greg Lindmark stem from 1991 – 1992, when he was Richard Wanke’s primary arresting officer (along with David Hopkins) for a pair of commercial burglary cases spanning both DeKalb and Winnebago counties. Their initial interaction with Richard Wanke during his first arrests and prosecution concerned several instances of alleged misconduct on their part which he would later attempt to sue them in federal court over. Richard Wanke alleged that both Lindmark and Hopkins extracted from him (during an extended marathon session of interrogation) false written confessions implicating him in certain area burglaries; the details of which he claims they provided him with and dictated to him in exchange for promises of medical treatment while he was medically unwell and too sleep deprived to resist believing them. Lindmark, in particular, Wanke claims, played “good cop” to him under the guise of a being a former high-school classmate of his who claimed to be concerned only with his welfare at the time.
Certainly Richard Wanke’s prolific writings from this time period lend support to the perspective of his naiveté in believing in any promises Lindmark and Hopkins may have made to him prior to the State then proceeding to prosecute him for burglary separately in both DeKalb and Winnebago counties. Richard Wanke subsequently served three years in IDOC for his DeKalb conviction while his Winnebago conviction would be overturned in 2000 and sent back to Winnebago County for a retrial which never took place before the State dismissed the case in 2008.
Greg Lindmark showed up to first testify at Richard Wanke’s DeKalb county trial. When the issue arose as to whether or not he and Hopkins had Mirandized Richard prior to eliciting a confession, Lindmark testified that he was present in the room when Hopkins Mirandized Richard. The problem was that Lindmark apparently forgot that he was on already on record elsewhere stating that he was called away from the room at the time for another purpose. Richard’s Public Defender didn’t find that contradiction important enough to refute when Richard raised it to him, but the State did. The State recalled Lindmark to the stand to retract and correct his testimony.
It was at Richard Wanke’s subsequent sentencing hearing in DeKalb County that Greg Lindmark also first put forth his claim in testimony that during his arrest, Richard Wanke, purportedly told he and Hopkins that he “wanted to be known as the Ted Bundy of serial burglars”. Lindmark’s claim at the time and now rings false to anyone personally acquainted wtth Richard Wanke, but that did not stop Lindmark from repeating the claim; most recently in 2008, when he again testified the same in aggravation at Richard’s last sentencing hearing. Most lately, of course, Lindmark laughingly confided to a third-party in a manner signifying that he thought little of it at the time; that the claim was an “embellishment” of his, and that even now he found it amusing that anyone could resent his action.
Richard Wanke subsequently dropped his federal lawsuits against both Greg Lindmark and David Hopkins over their alleged 1991 – 1992 actions, but the continued pattern of interactions also pitted Greg Lindmark against Richard Wanke in 2006 and 2008 and then set in motion the murder charges currently pending against Richard Wanke.
When attorney Greg Clark was shot to death on February 6, 2008, in the middle of a snowstorm, Greg Lindmark had been Deputy Chief of the Rockford Police for five years and was put in charge of Clark’s murder investigation. Evidence at his murder scene was sparse and not specific to any known individual but only seemed to indicate a composite of a suspect seen leaving the neighborhood after the murder. Whether that person lived in the neighborhood and thus, even had any connection to the murder is unknown since even at least one house a block or so over from Clark’s owned a vehicle similar in model and of the same color to the one some witnesses allegedly sighted. So, the police had no suspects to focus attention upon early in the investigation until a name was dropped into their midst.
It was fateful that Greg Lindmark was in charge of the Clark murder investigation when the local Public Defenders office offered up to police the name of Richard Wanke as a person allegedly in dispute in attorney Clark. However, within a couple of hours, Lindmark turned the entire murder investigation towards developing evidence to name Richard Wanke as the murder suspect. This likely would not have happened under a different Deputy Chief, but was almost inevitable given Lindmark’s past history with Richard Wanke.
Now, seven years later, it is apparent that even the State recognizes that Lindmark’s bias against Richard Wanke has doomed any real chance that ever existed to find the person or persons truly responsible for attorney Greg Clark’s murder. Richard Wanke has been fully investigated by the State and still no evidence exists directly connecting him to any involvement in the Clark murder. While State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato went ahead in April 2014, to charge Richard Wanke with Clark’s murder despite the case going officially cold in 2010, his office was careful to then excise Greg Lindmark from the prosecution’s case.
As the police official who directed and controlled the substance and scope of the original murder investigation and who then remained in charge of it for the following three critical years, Greg Lindmark should have been front and center to the State’s prosecution case, and their primary prosecution witness offered to detail how the investigation was handled. Instead, from the moment of filing, the State has reprised Lindmark’s role with a different and minor police official. It will be a police official who was in charge of dispatching individual police officers to their assigned responsibilities during the onset of the investigation, rather than Lindmark, (particularly following his death) who will now play the role of the primary prosecution witness responsible for the investigation.
Studies show the police are more prone to commit sudden suicide by their own weapons than the general public or persons in other occupations. Greg Lindmark’s autopsy is still pending and perhaps it will shed more light on the reason why a police official who many found exceptional apparently and most unexpectedly shot himself to death in the end. Perhaps it was just an accident, after all. To the observer, his somber funeral, (while respectful and attended by hundreds) comprising the routine Catholic mass, the presentation of the Color Guard, and a single, superficial brochure consisting of a few photos and an impersonal notation failed to adequately reflect the meticulous, yet human individual his mourners seem to recall. Clearly, Lindmark’s death not only came as a surprise to others, but to himself as well; since given his choice, he would have no doubt have planned for better.
As detailed above the Greg Lindmark we came to know over the years, differed significantly from the Lindmark his friends and family came to know and love. Yet, there is also that one last human moment of contact with Lindmark for us to share with the reader.
In 2013, in one of the large capacity courtrooms in the new Justice Center, Diane Chavez found herself face-to-face with Greg Lindmark, who had come in late to stand in the back. Lindmark apparently did not recognize her from the rear and found himself suddenly confronted by her in his path when she left. He evidently expected her to confront him with hostility, because sudden embarrassment and shame washed over his face for a second or two before he was once again able to compose himself stoically. Perhaps he had occasion over the years to recall his certainty in the justification of his actions at the time in Februuary 2008, when he personally arrested her and the knowing manner of her prediction to him then: when she advised him that his actions would be irrevocable and would cost her everything of value in her life (a situation which has since come to pass). in 2013, she merely continued past him.
Richard Wanke now faces the inability to at any upcoming trial to directly confront Greg Lindmark, his primary ranking accuser for the explanation and justification of his actions in 2008. As an falsely accused person, in the back of one’s mind is continually replayed the possible scenario of your main antagonist coming to the realization of his fault and in some manner accepting responsibility, acknowledging the fault to you, and making some atonement. In criminal prosecutions, you hope that someone in power intervenes to stop the senseless onslaught of prosecution against you.
For all the humanity attributed to Greg Lindmark by his mourners, he will therefore never play that part, and henceforth, we will have to do our best to erase the mark and memory he has left upon our lives.
"> Greg Lindmark’s Funeral Brochure