Matt Hale, one of the nation's more high-profile white supremacists, was arrested January 8 on charges he solicited the murder of a federal judge. Hale, 31, of East Peoria, Ill., was arrested as he arrived at a Chicago courthouse in connection with a separate matter — a contempt of court hearing related to a trademark-infringement lawsuit.
Hale is head of the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC). A member of that organization carried out a 1999 shooting spree that killed two people and wounded seven others in Illinois and Indiana.
Mark Potok, editor of the Center's Intelligence Report, said Hale's arrest "may well spell the end of the World Church of the Creator."
"This group, which at one point claimed 80,000 members, in fact never had more than 300 at most," Potok said, adding that the group has been losing members due to internal splits.
Though small, Potok added, WCOTC members "have left a trail of blood and death across the country ... and now its leader allegedly tried to have a federal judge murdered."
The FBI alleges that Hale, between November 29 and December 17, tried to get someone to kill Joan Humphrey Lefkow, a U.S. District Court judge. Lefkow, presiding over the trademark case, had recently ordered Hale's group to stop using the World Church of the Creator name because it is too similar to that of an unrelated group in Oregon.