On Tuesday, Judge Lefkow was under armed federal guard in an undisclosed place, mourning the deaths of Michael F. Lefkow, her husband of 30 years, and Donna Humphrey, her 89-year-old mother, whom she found dead of gunshots to the head in their basement the evening before.
"I think she's very upset with herself, maybe, for being a judge and putting her family in this danger," said Laura Lefkow, 20, the third of the judge's five daughters, "but there's no way she should have known."
Local and federal law enforcement officials said on Tuesday they were investigating possible connections between the double killing and Matthew Hale, the white supremacist now in federal prison awaiting sentencing for soliciting Judge Lefkow's assassination, or his many sympathizers. Federal officials in Washington said agents were reviewing Judge Lefkow's caseload in search of suspects, with the main thrust on the hate groups that had focused on her before.
Already, some white supremacists were celebrating the killings on the Internet, while others spun conspiracy theories that the crime had been committed by Mr. Hale's enemies to poison the atmosphere before his sentencing next month. Experts who have spent years tracking Mr. Hale's organization, now called Creativity, also pointed to the sentencing, recalling that one of his acolytes, Benjamin Smith, went on a shooting spree in 1999 after Mr. Hale, who had passed the Illinois bar exam, was denied a license to practice law.
"We saw what happened the last time Matt Hale got slapped in the face by the system; the price of that was two dead and nine severely wounded," said Mark Potok, director of intelligence for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. "Now Matt Hale is about to be sentenced, very probably, to most of his natural life to federal prison. It's very possible that a Hale follower or sympathizer has decided to fight back."
Not all terrorists come from the Middle East.