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Friday, March 11, 2005

A Twist in the Lefkow Case: Alleged Murderer Commits Suicide

UPDATE: DNA on cigarette butts found at the Lefkow home match Ross's DNA. Story here. [Mark Godsey]

Chicago and federal law enforcement officers are investigating the link between a man who committed suicide Wednesday in Wisconsin and the slayings of Judge Lefkow's husband and mother.  The man, identified by vehicle registration as Bart Ross, shot and killed himself while pulled over by the police for driving a vehicle without tail lights.  Police in the Wisconsin town West Allis had been following the car after seeing it parked next to a school, noticing its out-of-state Illinois license plates, and becoming suspicious.  When the officer pulled over the vehicle, the driver shot and killed himself, as the officer was standing next to the vehicle.  When the vehicle was searched, police discovered a suicide note claiming responsibility for the murders, and 300 .22-caliber shells--the same caliber of the three casings found in the Lefkow home.  Aside from the suicide note in Ross's vehicle, WMAQ-TV in Chicago also received a handwritten letter signed by Ross describing in detail the Lefkow slayings--including that he broke into the house at 4:30 a.m., waited in the utility room all day, and had the intention of killing Lefkow and anyone else present.  Judge Lefkow previously had ruled against Bart Ross, denying him recovery in a medical malpractice suit.  The Associated Press reports: "Last September, Lefkow dismissed a civil rights lawsuit in which Ross claimed doctors at the University of Illinois-Chicago Hospital and its clinic had disfigured him, damaged his mouth and caused him to lose his teeth when they treated him for cancer from 1992 to 1995.  Among other claims, Ross alleged doctors committed a ''terrorist act'' against him by giving him radiation treatment without his consent.  He represented himself in the lawsuit.  Defendants included the federal government, the State of Illinois, five doctors and four attorneys who had taken part in an earlier Ross lawsuit that was dismissed by another judge.  Ross was also about to face eviction from his home, according to Cook County Sheriff's spokesman Bill Cunningham. A lawsuit was filed in housing court Feb. 23 seeking to evict Ross, and sheriff's deputies tried three times in early March to serve Ross with court papers. The case was due in court Thursday.  Police have been unable to find any of the man's family. Chicago police Thursday cordoned off the street outside Ross' last-known address, a two-story home across from a high school on a tree-lined street on the city's North Side."  The full story from the Associated Press and NYTimes [Mark Godsey]

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