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Waukegan cop found dead in Antioch woods

Waukegan Police Sgt. Peter Michaels receiving CommOfficer Year from Exchange Club Waukegan Annual Police Fire Awards lunche2009. | Thomas Delany

Waukegan Police Sgt. Peter Michaels receiving the Command Officer of the Year from the Exchange Club of Waukegan Annual Police and Fire Awards luncheon in 2009. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 12, 2013 3:00AM

ANTIOCH — A well-respected Waukegan police officer was found dead in woods north of Antioch and near his home by a large search party Thursday morning in what is an apparent suicide.

According to sources, Sgt. Peter Michaels, 42, was reported missing to Antioch police by his family from their home in the Tiffany Farms subdivision at 6 a.m. Wednesday. He was last seen Tuesday night. He had left his cellphone and car keys behind at home.

The Lake County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy and determined the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

Michaels was an 18-year veteran of the Waukegan Police Department and Police Chief Daniel Greathouse said the department is saddened by his death.

“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the untimely passing of Sergeant Pete Michaels. Our deepest condolences go out to the Michaels’ family,” he said.

Michaels participated in the Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run and carried the “Flame of Hope” last year as it went through Waukegan.

He was named the Exchange Club of Waukegan’s Command Officer of the Year in 2009.

“Pete will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” said Greathouse.

About 120 members of law enforcement, Explorer groups and K-9 teams were involved in the search that spread out in the area of North Avenue and Trevor Road on Thursday morning.

Some police dogs apparently started following a scent and then the searchers saw the body. It was found in a wooded thicket off Trevor Road, about an eighth-of-a-mile from North Avenue. The Tifffany Farms subdivision is located on the south side of North Avenue.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies joined the multi-jurisdictional search party at 8 a.m. to search for the missing man.

The search party began in the area of West North Avenue and North Trevor Road and continued through a heavily wooded area. At approximately 9 a.m., officers located the body. The scene was secured and jurisdiction was confirmed to be unincorporated Lake County.

Two schools about a quarter-mile away from the search area were on soft lockdown for a short time, authorities said.

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