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Tuesday, March 15, 2005  

News: Aftermath of Lefkow manhunt intrigues

By now, everyone except the sort of people likely to serve on juries in celebrity trials knows that Polish immigrant Bart A. Ross has been identified as the person who murdered the husband and mother of federal judge Joan Lefkow. Ross shot himself to death after being stopped by police curious about traffic infractions twice within a few hours, while in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. Though he was on the list of people to be interviewed about the Lefkow murders, he was not being approached in regard to that. Speculation that sympathizers with white supremacist Matt Hale were responsible for the murders proved wrong -- this time. Hale is awaiting trial after conspiring with members of his hate group, Creativity, to have Judge Lefkow murdered. Though the major question has been answered, there are so many interesting aspects of this episode that it is worth taking a look at the aftermath.

The roommate of a skinhead known to be a Hale sympathizer is the worst for the manhunt. Organized racism is rife with distrust. Many of the members of hate groups already have had contact with the criminal justice system and have reason to be wary of additional indictments. They often inform on each other. (Three of Hale's lieutenants testified against him in his trial for conspiring to murder the judge.) That may be why at least one of the reported 350 persons interviewed by law enforcement personnel investigating the Lefkow homicides turned on an associate. The Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The reputed leader of a Missouri skinhead group whom the FBI questioned about the Lefkow family murders beat up his roommate for 11 hours because of suspicions that the roommate fingered the skinhead leader to law enforcement, officials said Monday.

Adam Daniel Jacobs, 27, of Springfield, Mo., was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree assault, kidnapping and armed criminal action. He was being held at a Missouri jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.

Jacobs, the alleged leader of the Skinhead Church of the Creator, beat up his roommate a day after Jacobs was questioned by the FBI in connection with the Lefkow investigation, Missouri prosecutor Cindy Rushefsky said. The FBI interview happened March 4 -- nearly a week before Bart Ross of Chicago admitted committing the murders in a suicide note he left before killing himself near Milwaukee, Jacobs' roommate told police.

Jacobs' roommate, who recently joined the skinhead group, told police that after the FBI visited the trailer they shared, Jacobs accused him of notifying authorities about his role in the white supremacy group. Jacobs allegedly held his friend in their trailer home against his will, according to a police affidavit.

As someone who has always been skeptical of the follower personality, I've continually puzzled by the things some people do to fit in, regardless of the nature of what they are trying to fit in to. I wouldn't be surprised if the the roommate remains a skinhead.

Though members of Matt Hale's family have claimed they resent being in the media spotlight, his mother sought out press attention again yesterday. She told reporters that another son agreed to record his conversations with Hale in hope of proving Hale had not ordered hits of Judge Lefkow's relatives. The Peoria Star-Journal has the story.

PEORIA - The FBI tried to induce Matt Hale's brother, David, to wear a wire and infiltrate white supremacist groups, the mother of both men, Evelyn Hutcheson, said Thursday.

Shortly after the slayings of attorney Michael Lefkow, 64, and Donna Humphrey, 89, the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, the FBI knocked on her door and interviewed her and David Hale, Hutcheson said.

"They asked him if he'd wear a wire. He said, 'I'll do anything to prove my brother's innocence,'" Hutcheson said.

She objected to the plan, she said, but David Hale, 36, initially agreed.

"He had agreed to do it but I wasn't going to let him," Hutcheson said.

But when the family's visiting rights with Matt Hale were stopped last week, David changed his mind, she said.

David Hale shares his brother's white supremacist views. In 1991, he and Matt were convicted of threatening several black men with a gun. (Matt Hale's felony convicton was reversed on appeal because the police failed to read him his rights under Miranda.) David has also been involved in scuffles with other people of color and Jews, sometimes accompanied by his brother.

Throughout the episode, Hale has tried to use the investigation to create sympathy for himself, releasing statements that seek to absolve him of responsibility in the conspiracy case. Some white supremacists have tried to reap positive publicity from the situation by demanding that legal authorities and the media apologize to the white supremacist movement. They claim that Matt Hale's followers not being responsible for murdering Judge Lefkow's relatives proves they are not dangerous persons. That is ludicrous. Though it turned out that another person the judge ruled against was responsible for these murders, Hale followers were justifiably prime suspects. They have been urging harm to the judge and her kin since 2000. The conviction of Hale for solicitation of her murder proves that the danger is real. Furthermore, the ease with which Ross took the lives of Michael Lefkow and Donna Humphrey may encourage some members of the white supremacist movement to attempt additional harm to the judge or her kin. No apologies are owed and none should be given.

Reasonably related

I have downloaded the pleadings in Bart Ross' medical malpractice cases and am in the process of reading them. I am curious about the trajectory that led him to taking his life when he believed the police were closing in. How did the man go from hopeful immigrant to recluse to murderer? According to the an articlein the Kansas City Star, Ross' body remains unclaimed in Milwaukie, where he apparently was stalking two other judges who had ruled against him. Ross appears to have severed all ties with other people. I will have more to say about the situation later.

9:45 PM