Slaying at US judge’s home raises concern about cyberthreats

Full Screen
1 / 8

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Senior U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, poses Monday, July 27, 2020, for a portrait in her Chicago home. In 2005, Lefkow returned from work to find her husband and mother shot dead in the basement of her Chicago home. Lefkow was forced to relive her family tragedy this month when a struggling lawyer armed with a gun and a grudge opened fire at the home of another female judge. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

PHILADELPHIA – In 2005, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow returned from work to find her husband and mother shot dead in the basement of her Chicago home. Investigators initially focused on a White Supremacist who had put out a hit on Lefkow.

But the killer turned out to be someone else entirely: a homeless electrician who had lost a medical malpractice suit in her courtroom. He killed himself when police pulled him over a week later — and found a list of enemy judges, including Lefkow, in his van.

Lefkow was forced to relive her family tragedy this month when a struggling lawyer armed with a gun and a grudge opened fire at the home of another female judge — U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in suburban New Jersey — killing her 20-year-old son and critically wounding her husband.

“It seems to me it’s almost always men, with these obsessions. They act on on them in violent ways. And it ends up in (these) tragedies,” Lefkow, 76, told The Associated Press.

Both attacks, like others against judges, were carried out by men with a weapon and a vendetta. And in both, the assailants were not on law enforcement's radar. But the latest case adds a dangerous new twist that authorities nationwide have struggled to thwart until it's too late: the vast misogyny that proliferates online.

Investigators have concluded that a Manhattan lawyer who seethed about women in obsessive online posts targeted Salas on July 19 — and killed a rival lawyer in the men's rights movement in California a week earlier — before killing himself in rural New York.

Roy Den Hollander had a document with information about a dozen female judges from across the country — half, including Salas, Latina — with him when he was found dead, two people with knowledge of the investigation told the AP. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Den Hollander’s anti-feminist screeds go back at least 20 years, when his divorce from a Russian woman he met during a work stint in the country led to years of court filings against her, her lawyer, her workplace and others.