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Police seek help after judge's family slain

No 'definitive links' to white supremacist case


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Police investigators work outside Joan Lefkow's house Monday.
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Police are tight-lipped about evidence found in killings of judge's family.

The world of Illinois white supremacist Matthew Hale
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Chicago (Illinois)

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Law enforcement officials were tight-lipped Tuesday about what evidence they have been able to gather in the killings of a federal judge's mother and husband.

U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow came home Monday evening and found the bodies of her husband, Michael Lefkow, 64, and her mother, 89-year-old Donna Grace Humphrey in the basement.

Both had been shot, said Chicago Police Chief of Detectives James Molloy.

Autopsies are being carried out by the Cook County Medical Examiner.

Judge Lefkow, 61, was once targeted for death by a white supremacist leader, but officials said there was no clear link to Monday's killings.

"We're going to work extra hard to solve this murder," said Molloy. "We're going to put a lot of resources into it."

Those resources include the creation of a task force composed of FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and detectives pulled in from other precincts who are working in 12-hour shifts, said Hiram Grau, deputy superintendent of the Bureau of Investigative Services for the Chicago Police Department.

"But we also need the public's help," he told reporters. "This case will be solved based on the evidence and the information provided to us by the public."

The task force was initially made up of 26 people, but it's growing, he said.

He encouraged anyone "who has any information" to call a tip line at 312-744-8445.

In April 2004, white supremacist Matthew Hale was found guilty on charges he tried to arrange for Judge Lefkow to be murdered.

The judge, presiding over a trademark infringement suit, had ordered Hale's group to stop using the name World Church of the Creator, which belonged to another religious group with no ties to Hale.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 6.

After his conviction, the FBI sent an advisory to police agencies nationwide, warning about possible violence from Hale sympathizers after an openly racist Web site posted the home address and phone number of an FBI informant who testified against him during the trial.

Law enforcement officials said the Web site misidentified the informant.

The U.S. Marshals Service assigned a protection detail to the judge, but it was "deemed not viable" after "a couple of weeks," a representative of the U.S. Marshals Service told reporters.

There was no protection detail guarding Lefkow on Monday.

The mission of the U.S. Marshals is in part to ensure the safety of federal judiciary in the nation's courthouses and, if necessary, outside them.

"We are confident that the killer or killers of these individuals will be found and brought to justice," said Assistant Director Marc Farmer of the U.S. Marshals' Judicial Security Division, in a written statement.

Should the killings be linked to Judge Lefkow's role as a jurist, "it will be the first time that family members of a United States judge have been murdered," he said.

The U.S. Marshals Service protects 2,000 federal judges and magistrates.

"It's far too early to draw any definitive links" to the Hale case, Molloy said. "It's also too soon to determine a motive."

Overnight, detectives and members of an evidence recovery team collected material and interviewed witnesses, he said.

The evidence will be examined at laboratories in Chicago and Washington, he said.

"We have a lot of physical evidence from the scene, but I'm not going to get into what type it is," he said.

Molloy said the killings appear to have occurred between 10:30 a.m., when the grandmother talked with one of her granddaughters on the phone, and 5:30 p.m., when the judge returned home.

At 4 p.m., her daughter entered the house briefly to pick up a gym bag and departed, having had "no contact with anyone in the house," Molloy said.

"Anything's possible, but we're figuring that it was done prior to that," he added.

Asked whether others involved in the Hale case are receiving protection, Molloy said, "I can't speak to that. There's people who have been made aware that there's potential."

Those people include a number of police officers who were involved in the case against Hale, he said.

Asked if any had asked for protection, he said, "Not that I'm aware of."


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