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Lawyer: Hale Passed Message to Supporter

An attorney for jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale (search) said Hale's mother asked him to relay an encoded message from Hale to one of his supporters, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Hale, who awaits sentencing for soliciting the murder of a federal judge, has been a focus of the investigation into last week's shooting deaths of the judge's husband and mother.

Lawyer Glenn Greenwald said Hale's mother, Evelyn Hutcheson (search), asked him a few months ago to pass the message to a Hale supporter.

"She said she didn't know what the message meant, but she was going to read it to me verbatim because Matt made her write it down when she visited him," Greenwald told the newspaper. "It was two or three sentences that were very cryptic and impossible to understand in terms of what they were intended to convey."

He said he declined to deliver it.

Greenwald and Hutcheson did not immediately return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment on the report.

U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow (search) found her 64-year-old husband, attorney Michael Lefkow, and 89-year-old mother, Donna Humphrey, shot to death in the basement of her home when she returned from work Feb. 28.

In the quest for possible motives or leads, police detectives and FBI agents searched Michael Lefkow's law office and spent hours examining his files, a source familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Neither the FBI nor the U.S. attorney's office would comment on the search of the law office.

Though authorities have said white supremacists are just one aspect of the investigation, Hale and other supremacists immediately drew investigators' attention in the wake of the slayings.

Hale, 33, is to be sentenced next month for soliciting an FBI informant to kill the judge after she ordered him to stop using the name World Church of the Creator (search) for his group because of a trademark lawsuit.

Matthew Hale has denied any involvement in the slayings, or of soliciting the judge's murder.

Greenwald, who has represented Hale and his organization in several civil cases, said he told federal agents last week about the conversation he had with Hutcheson.

Hutcheson told the newspaper that the message was about someone her son thought should testify at Hale's April 6 sentencing. She said any coding was meant to keep federal agents from figuring out Hale's legal strategy.

Hutcheson has said federal agents have asked her if Hale communicated with her in code.

Hale's parents said Tuesday they have been told they will no longer be allowed to visit their son or talk to him on the telephone. They had been able to see him at the Metropolitan Correctional Center every other week and talk to him weekly.

They said an official talked to them Monday but did not give a reason or explain when the visits might resume.

"I was just so stunned that I didn't think to ask why," said Hale's father, Russell Hale, a retired East Peoria police sergeant. "It's especially hard because we need him now and he needs us."

Matthew Hale gained notoriety in 1999 when a follower, Benjamin Smith, went on a shooting rampage in Illinois and Indiana. Targeting minorities, Smith killed two people, including former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, and wounded nine before killing himself as police closed in.