Everyone just knew that Matt Hale was responsible for the murder of Judge Lefkow's family. We all just knew it. I suspect that a lot of evidence when viewed by people who already knew what happened - but just needed to find some proof - pointed to Matt Hale. And I bet detectives would have found enough evidence to tie Hale to the crime. We would have convicted him, and justice would have been served.
It now seems, though, that someone without any affiliation with Hale was responsible for the Lefkow murders. This report indicates that Bart Ross was responsible:
Notes found in the car of Bart Ross, who killed himself after a traffic stop in West Allis last night, describe how he killed a federal judge's husband and mother in Chicago and listed additional people he blamed for ruining his life, including two Milwaukee judges.
The notes appear to suggest Ross acted alone in the Chicago murders, and was not planning to kill anyone else, a law enforcement source said.
Weeks earlier Ross confessed his crimes in a letter to NBC:
The hand-written letter, signed by Bart A. Ross, describes how the crimes were committed, saying he intended to kill Lefkow, not her relatives. The handwriting is at times hard to decipher, but NBC5 has made every attempt to transcribe it accurately without edits.
The letter begins, "I regret killing husband and mother of Judge Lefkow as much as I regret that I have to die for the simple reason that they personally did to me no wrong."
The author says he broke into Lefkow's house at 6:30 a.m. and planned to spend all day waiting for the judge to return. However, Michael Lefkow discovered the man in a utility room of the home at about 9 a.m., according to the letter.
"I had no choice ... but to shoot him," the letter states. "Then I heard voice 'Michael, Michael,' so I looked to the hallway (in the basement) and saw an older woman. I had to shoot her too. I followed with a 2nd shot to the head in both cases to minimize their suffering."
In cases like these I lose faith in the criminal justice system, and in all of us. How can we so arrogantly be sure of what happened in a home thousands of miles away from us? But we were sure, and we would have extracted our pound of flesh.
The problem is that we would have taken it from the wrong man.