Gurnee cop charged with domestic battery tried to buy ‘murder kit’: prosecutors

Gurnee Police Officer Michael Stoner | Lake County sheriff’s office

A north suburban Gurnee police officer facing felony domestic battery charges tried to purchase a “murder kit” of bleach, plastic sheeting, rope and a shovel earlier this year, prosecutors allege.

Officer Michael Stoner turned himself in Wednesday at the Lake County Jail accompanied by his attorney, according to a statement from Gurnee police.

Stoner was wanted on a warrant charging him with one felony count each of aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery, as well as two misdemeanor counts of domestic battery, police said.

The incident that led to the warrant happened March 3 in Winthrop Harbor, according to Winthrop Harbor police. The victim filed an order of protection afterward, as did Stoner, but Stoner’s order was later withdrawn.

Police have received 17 reports at his residence, including a domestic battery allegation from 2018 in which Stoner allegedly pushed the victim down a flight of stairs, injuring the person’s ACL, Winthrop Harbor police said.

During a bail hearing Wednesday, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Demetri Tsilimigras said Stoner abused the victim since December 2016 and threatened to kill the victim, the victim’s son and the victim’s father.

Stoner’s attorney, Joseph D. Zeit, said during the hearing that Stoner, who is “vehemently denying” the allegations, has not had contact with the victim since January 2020. He argued that Stoner wasn’t a flight risk and said he’s a lifelong Lake County resident who has been employed by the village of Gurnee for 7 1/2 years.

“Defense counsel says that there is no threat here, but during this investigation, there was an attempt by the defendant to purchase, which I call a ‘murder kit,’ which contained Clorox bleach, shovel, rope and plastic sheets,” Tsilimigras said during the hearing. “This was done on January 29, 2020, just a few months ago.”

While the initial warrant carried a $75,000 bail, Judge Paul B. Novak reduced it to $40,000 and ordered Stoner to have no contact with the victim, others he threatened, nor the victim’s residence or workplace. He also ordered Stoner to turn over any firearms or ammunition in his possession to Winthrop Harbor police.

Stoner had already turned over his weapons and ammunition to his father, Zeit said.

Gurnee police said Stoner was “immediately placed on administrative leave” when the department was notified about the allegations and will remain on leave “pending all court proceedings.”

“We take this matter very seriously, and will continue to cooperate any way we can,” Gurnee Police Chief Brian Smith said in the statement. “We remain mindful of the fact that there is a presumption of innocence for all defendants. Therefore we will have no comment on the alleged charges and will allow the matter to proceed through the legal system.”

Stoner is due to appear in court next for a preliminary hearing on July 28.