Published March 02, 2005
CHICAGO – U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow (search) told a newspaper Wednesday she fears the murders of husband and mother may have been related to her job, saying she is furious over what she called a "cold-blooded" attack.
"If someone was angry at me, they should go after me. It's not fair to go after my family," Lefkow said in an interview posted on the Web site of the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday night. "It was just cold-blooded. Who would do this? I'm just furious."
Lefkow's remarks came as two of her colleagues called for greater security for federal judges and their families following the murders of her husband, Michael, and her 89-year-old mother, Donna Humphrey.
Investigators are hoping that an abundance of physical evidence left behind in the basement where the victims were killed will point to specific suspects.
"This horrible tragedy has got to serve as the basis for a substantial increase in security for judges and their families," U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen (search) said. "The Internet is plastered with information about every one of us."
The shooting came a month before white supremacist Matthew Hale (search) was to be sentenced by another judge for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to murder Lefkow, who had ordered Hale to change the name of his extremist group as part of a trademark lawsuit.
Police say extremist groups are just one of several avenues being looked at by authorities, though speculation among judges and lawyers has focused on Hale's group, which has a history of violence.
Hale's father, retired East Peoria policeman Russell Hale, dismissed the notion that his son was involved, saying he is under constant surveillance and the FBI closely monitors his phone calls and visits with family members.
Both victims had been shot multiple times, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, and a source told the AP that police found two .22 caliber casings at the scene. Investigators believe the victims were forced to lie on the basement floor before being shot, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.
A federal source who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said a shard of broken glass from a broken window in the Lefkow home contained a fingerprint and was flown to Washington for examination. The source said police also were analyzing a bloody footprint left at the home.
Lefkow said she never thought her job would endanger her family.
"I think we all sort of go into this thinking it's a possibility, but you don't think it's going to happen to you because it's so unthinkable," she told the Chicago Tribune.
There are many marshals and other law officers in federal courthouses to provide protection for judges and others. But judges get no special protection once they leave the courthouse unless a specific threat arises.
Lefkow received special protection for about two weeks after Hale's arrest in 2003, but it was then withdrawn with her concurrence, said Shannon Metzger, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals' office. Metzger said Wednesday that the office was studying Andersen's comments.
Lefkow and other members of her family have been in seclusion since the killings, guarded by a special protective detail of federal marshals. But other judges in the courthouse have been coming and going without special security.
U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen also called for more protection.
"I think there is an increased need and awareness because there are people who are interested in attacking the very fabric of our democratic society," Aspen said.
Laura Lefkow, the 20-year-old daughter of Joan and Michael Lefkow, said in an e-mail to the AP on Wednesday that her father was a true gentleman. As an attorney, he "worked for the voiceless, those who were unemployed, poor and marginalized," she said.
She remembered her grandmother as a woman "who could do the Sunday crossword puzzle in pen" and hand-made quilts for each of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.