Last Feb. 28, U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow of Chicago came home from a day in the federal courthouse to find her husband and mother murdered in her basement. She agreed to let Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich follow her through the slow process of mending herself and her family. Out the door of the Chicago high-rise where Lefkow lives today, federal marshals camp around the clock waiting for the next terror or, more probably, for the next time the judge goes to a bookstore or hair salon. Marshals chauffeur her around in a van with dark windows, shepherd her into elevators and down hallways, lurk at a nearby table when she meets a friend for lunch.
A long recounting by the Tribune of Lefkow’s life since the murders concludes that, “Her loneliness grows starker as the shock wears off. From day to day, she ricochets from disbelief to acceptance and back again, from energetic determination to fatigue no sleep could cure.” She is more inclined these days to accept speaking invitations, from an obligation to the issues of justice that roused her late husband, Michael. “I’ve found my voice in a way I didn’t have yet,” she says. “I don’t have forever to be an influence on other people. Michael’s not there to speak, so I must speak louder. I’m less afraid.”