View Full Version : Man Says He Killed Chicago Judge's Family

Mar 10th, 2005, 11:23 PM
Man Says He Killed Chicago Judge's Family

2 hours, 38 minutes ago
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By Michael Conlon

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A man who committed suicide after a traffic stop left a note and other evidence indicating he killed the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago, but the case is not closed, police said on Thursday.

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There is "plenty of information out there pointing to this individual as the offender," Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline told a news conference. The note the man left in his van indicated he was in the judge's home on the day of the Feb. 28 killings and he was among a number of people due to be questioned in the case, he added.

But Cline cautioned that the note alone "is not definitive evidence that we have our offender." He said it would be "premature" to implicate the man, Bart Ross, though other unidentified physical evidence found in his van also pointed to him as the murderer.

Ross, 57, shot himself in the head after he was stopped on Wednesday evening in a Milwaukee suburb for driving a vehicle with tail lights that were not working.

Cline said the note found in Ross's possession listed a number of names, but he declined to speculate on whether they comprised a hit list of other potential victims.

Judge Joan Lefkow of the U.S. District Court found the bodies of her 64-year-old husband, Michael, and 89-year-old mother, Donna Humphrey, in the basement of her home when she returned from work last week.

WMAQ-TV in Chicago said it had received a letter that appears to have been sent by Ross in which he said he broke into the judge's home to kill her but was discovered hiding by her husband and wound up shooting him and the judge's mother.


The letter described Ross's 12-year battle with mouth cancer and his frustrated efforts to sue doctors who he said left him disfigured and in constant pain, the station said. It included photographs of Ross.

The second of his two lawsuits that cited doctors, lawyers and judges involved in his cancer treatment and subsequent litigation, was tossed out by Lefkow in September, court records show.

Lefkow's response to Ross's rambling 130-page lawsuit was a one-sentence ruling dismissing it "for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted."

"Judge Lefkow was No. 1 to kill because she finished me off and deprived me to live my life through outrageous abuse of judicial power," the station quoted the letter as saying. "Judge Lefkow, to her neighbors, is a church going 'angel'. To me, Judge Lefkow is a Nazi-style criminal and terrorist."

Hate groups fell under immediate suspicion after the slayings because a jailed white supremacist had earlier tried to hire someone to kill Lefkow as the result of a case she was involved in with him. The crime prompted calls for better security for judges in the United States, where crimes against the judiciary are rare.

Cline said there was no indication Ross was connected to any hate group, nor did he have a police record.

Police blocked off a street in a Chicago neighborhood where Ross had lived and were searching his house from which he was due to be evicted.

Neighbors told reporters Ross had not been living there recently and was battling money troubles. The Cook County Sheriff's Office told Reuters that deputies had tried to serve an eviction notice on Ross three times last week but he could not be found, and the case was due back in court on Thursday.

In West Allis, Wis., where the suicide occurred, Police Chief Dean Puschnig said officials had no prior contact with Ross, that he had had no known family in the area and that no federal judges lived in the town where the incident happened.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on Thursday that the names of two federal judges in Milwaukee were on the note found in Ross's van.