CHICAGO – A federal judge whose husband and mother were slain execution style in her basement is vowing to return to the bench, and police were searching for two "persons of interest" seen near the home.
Police released sketches of the two men, saying they want to interview them based on witness statements. One, a man in his mid-20s, was seen in a car near the home of Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow (search). The other, a man in his 50s, was wearing dark coveralls and a dark knit cap. Both are white.
In an interview published Thursday, the judge said she always knew her job could put her at risk but never thought it 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.
Lefkow, who is now in protective custody along with her four daughters, told the Chicago Sun-Times she will return to the bench. "Nobody is going to intimidate me off my duty," she said.
Investigators hope that physical evidence found in the basement where Michael Lefkow, 64, and 89-year-old Donna Humphrey were killed will point to specific suspects.
The shootings 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. Lefkow had ordered Hale to change the name of his extremist group as part of a trademark lawsuit.
FBI agents investigating the slayings were focusing on white supremacist groups, and a federal grand jury was convened to issue subpoenas, the Tribune reported, citing unidentified sources.
Authorities questioned Hale on Wednesday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, the Sun-Times reported, citing a federal source.
Hale's mother, Evelyn Hutcheson, told The New York Times that federal agents who visited her home in East Peoria on Tuesday had asked whether Hale communicated in code from prison. The newspaper reported that she also said the FBI questioned a friend of Hale's who lives in a Chicago suburb.
Federal agents this week also interviewed Hal Turner, a white-supremacist radio host from New Jersey, the Times reported.
"They wanted to know if I had any information about the killing, and they wanted to know where I was when the killing took place," Turner told the paper.
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.
A federal source who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said a shard of glass from a broken window in the 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.
U.S. Marshals and other law officers in federal courthouses 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 Marshals' office. Two of Lefkow's colleagues called for increased protection for federal judges. Metzger said Wednesday the office was studying the request.