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Supremacists Suspected in Killings at Judge's Home

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2005; Page A02

CHICAGO, March 2 -- The Internet postings began soon after news broke that a Chicago federal judge once targeted for assassination by a white supremacist had found her husband and mother dead Monday evening. Some correspondents said the killings were not such a bad thing.

"While I certainly understand that we are not supposed to be advocating illegal activities, there is nothing illegal or harmful in being happy about this incident," wrote someone with the Web name Palatine Creator. "I can barely contain my glee."

The judge's mother and husband, Michael Lefkow, 64, shown in this undated file photo, were found fatally shot in the Lefkow's basement. (File Photo)

The posting appeared on the site of the Missouri-based Vanguard News Network, whose motto is "Uncensored News for Whites." On the site of Stormfront, Yukon King expressed sorrow for the judge's family, "at least what's left of it. I guess her career of framing innocent people will be put aside for awhile."

The pathology of the fragmented white nationalist movement is on view in the aftermath of Monday's double killing. Working double shifts, Chicago police and the FBI are studying the associates of jailed World Church of the Creator leader Matthew Hale and a disparate array of extremists who sympathize with his cause.

Hale is awaiting sentencing for soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, but detectives are careful to say the motive in the deaths of her husband and mother remains unknown. They are examining the judge's other cases, as well as the work of her husband, Michael, a labor lawyer.

Investigators say the style of the killings and the supremacist animosity toward Lefkow are their best leads.

There was no sign of robbery. Michael Lefkow, 64, hobbled by recent Achilles' tendon surgery, and his frail mother-in-law, Donna Grace Humphrey, 89, were shot multiple times in the basement of the Lefkows' home on Chicago's north side. Police found a bloody shoeprint and, perhaps, an intruder's fingerprint.

Joan Lefkow told the Chicago Sun-Times today that the killings were "just so cruel." She said: "It was just cold-blooded. Who would do this? I'm just furious. If someone was angry at me, they should go after me. It's not fair to go after my family."

U.S. District Judge Wayne Anderson, one of Lefkow's colleagues, called for a significant increase in security for judges and their families. Reflecting the view of many other federal judges across the country, he told reporters that he worries there will be more casualties.

Police released composite sketches Wednesday night of two men who were seen near the crime scene.

Experts consider it unrealistic that Hale, 32, could have directed an attack on the Lefkows. Behind bars as he awaits his April sentencing by another federal judge, he is being held under strict rules that limit his contacts.

But Mark Pitcavage, a hate crimes specialist with the Anti-Defamation League in Columbus, Ohio, considers it "very likely that the murders were carried out by someone sympathetic to Matt Hale." He noted that white supremacists have used the "vilest epithets" to criticize Lefkow and have posted her address, family portraits and the address of her church in Evanston, Ill., on the Web.

Hale, who ran the World Church of the Creator from his father's house in East Peoria, Ill., using an Israeli flag for a doormat, called himself the Pontifex Maximus. Lefkow ruled in the church's favor in a trademark case, but an appeals court overruled her. When she ordered the church to change its name and levied a $200,000 fine, the invective began.

Loyalty to Hale remains strong.

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