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March 11, 2005
DNA Confirms Suicide As Lefkow Killer

The bigot didn't do it after all:

A DNA match from a cigarette butt convinced police that a Chicago electrician was the killer of a federal judge's husband and mother, authorities said.

The cigarette butt found in Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's house was matched to the electrician, Bart Ross, who killed himself during a traffic stop in Wisconsin this week, and the evidence points to him as the lone killer, police spokesman David Bayless said.

Ross, whose rambling lawsuit over his cancer treatment was dismissed by Lefkow, had claimed responsibility for the killings in a suicide note found in his minivan.

"The DNA match, with all the other evidence, certainly convinces us that Ross is the offender in the Lefkow family homicide," Bayless said Thursday night.

Like many others, I thought Matthew Hale or his supporters to be the likeliest suspects in this heinous and brutal murder. They fit all of our hotbuttons: racist, violent, ignorant, and generally as unpleasant as human beings get. I'm certain that they've perpetrated many other crimes, both petty and felonious. But they didn't commit this one.

The resolution on this case was so bizarre and anticlimatic that any book publisher would have tossed a manuscript out a window had it been submitted as fiction. But it should remind us that while logic has its place in police investigations, it doesn't always lead us to the right conclusions, especially when dealing with essentially irrational people. Ross would eventually have been discovered, I'm sure, as the police worked their way through the threats Lefkow received as a result of her work. Ross himself may have thought that the traffic stop at which he killed himself was the product of that investigation. But in the meantime, we should consider ourselves fortunate that we found the real killer and remember to be careful about reaching conclusions ahead of the evidence.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 11, 2005 7:50 AM

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