Jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale said Thursday the slaying of a federal judge’s husband and elderly mother was a “heinous crime” that “only an idiot” would think he ordered, according to a statement released by his mother.
“There is no way that any supporter of mine could commit such a heinous crime,” Hale said in the statement, released through his mother after her weekly telephone call to him at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. “I totally condemn it and I want the perpetrator caught and prosecuted.”
The shootings at U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow’s home came a month before Hale was to be sentenced by another judge for trying to have Lefkow killed. In a trademark dispute presided over by Lefkow, she had ordered Hale to change the name of his extremist group.
“I only hope they sincerely wish to apprehend the animal instead of railroading the innocent,” Hale said. “Only an idiot would think I would do this.”
Lefkow arrived home after work Monday to find the bodies of her husband, Michael Lefkow, 64, and her mother, Donna Humphrey, 89, in the basement. They had been shot to death.
Lefkow vowed to return to the bench. “Nobody is going to intimidate me off my duty,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times 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 is now under guard, along with her four daughters.
Police released sketches Wednesday of 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 Lefkow home. The other, a man in his 50s, was wearing dark coveralls and a dark knit cap.
FBI agents investigating the slayings were focusing on white supremacist groups.
Hale’s father, retired East Peoria police officer Russell Hale, said he also spoke to his son by telephone for about 15 minutes Thursday morning. The younger Hale is despondent over the turn of events and “knows it’s going to bode terribly bad for him if they don’t find out who did this,” Russell Hale said.
Jail officials moved Hale this week from a cell with a radio and legal materials he used while serving as his own attorney to a cell with nothing but a bed, sink and toilet, his father said. He said jail officials gave no reason for the move.
Russell Hale said neither he nor his son has any idea who is behind the killings.
“Anything’s possible. It could be people in other organizations that want to put it on Matthew,” he said. “Whoever did it were animals, I don’t care who they were.”
Authorities questioned Hale on Tuesday, and he denied any involvement in the killings, his father said.
Hale’s father said he has not been contacted by the FBI, but other relatives have, including his son and ex-wife.