Shooting at Federal Judge's Home Sparks Conspiracy Theories

After U.S. District Judge Esther Salas' son was killed in an attack on her home, observers zoomed in on a familiar name among her caseload.

Published Jul 22, 2020

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY - JULY 20: A view of the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas. on July 20, 2020 in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Salas' son, Daniel Anderl, was shot and killed and her husband, defense attorney Mark Anderl, was injured when a man dressed as a delivery person came to their front door and opened fire. Salas was not injured.  US marshals and the FBI are investigating. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images

After a shooting at a federal judge's home in New Jersey on July 18, 2020 -- which left her son dead and her husband wounded -- speculation arose that the incident was the result of a conspiracy involving disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019.

Some took to social media to express suspicion that the shooting was an assassination attempt on U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, who days before the incident was assigned to preside over a lawsuit by investors accusing Deutsche Bank of misleading them about "anti-money-laundering deficiencies" and failing to “properly monitor” customers considered “high risk,” such as Epstein. A few examples of such social media post can be viewed below:

At this time there is not enough publicly available information to determine all of the motives of the primary suspect in the attack, Roy Den Hollander.

The shooter reportedly disguised himself as a FedEx deliveryman, fatally shot Salas' 20-year-old son and seriously wounded her husband, 63. Salas was in a different part of the family's New Brunswick home and was unharmed.

We sent a question about motive for the shooting to the FBI, which is investigating the case, and haven't heard back in time for publication.

News reports point to Den Hollander's personal hatred for Salas and his track history of being an "anti-feminist" lawyer who "flooded the courts with seemingly frivolous lawsuits that sought to eliminate women’s studies programs and prohibit nightclubs from holding 'ladies' nights.'"

Den Hollander expressed hatred for Salas after one of his recent cases came before her, calling her "a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama" in a self-published book. He was also reportedly suffering from terminal cancer, according to various news reports.

After the shooting at Salas' home, police found Den Hollander near Liberty, New York, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Days before the shooting, Salas had been been assigned a case in which investors sued Deutsche Bank for damages over lost share value, alleging the bank failed to properly monitor risky clients like Epstein and also failed to disclose all relevant information to investors.

Because Epstein was a convicted sex offender, known for both fraternizing with and allegedly procuring sex trafficking victims for high-profile and powerful people, it is not unusual for his name to inspire suspicion and speculation. Many disbelieve the official explanation that his death in jail while awaiting trial on related sex trafficking charges was a suicide, claiming instead he was murdered as part of a cover-up.

Epstein's longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested on July 2 on charges related to sex trafficking of children and is in custody awaiting trial.


Hong, Nicole, et al.   "‘Anti-Feminist’ Lawyer Is Suspect in Killing of Son of Federal Judge in N.J."     The New York Times. 20 July 2020.

Bloomberg Law.   "Deutsche Bank Investors Sue Over Epstein Ties, Stock Drops."     16 July 2020.

Paybarah, Azi.   "Inside the Jail the Night Jeffrey Epstein Died."     The New York Times.   20 November 2019.

Pascus, Brian.   "Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Operating Sex Trafficking Ring Involving Dozens of Underage Girls, Pleads Not Guilty."     CBS News. 8 July 2019.

Benton, Joshua.   "The New Jersey Shooting Suspect Left a Pro-Trump Paper Trail."     The Atlantic. 20 July 2020.

Prokop, Andrew.   "Jeffrey Epstein’s Connections to Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Explained."     Vox.   10 August 2020.

Dienst, Jonathan. "Dead ‘Men's Rights' Attorney Eyed in Shootings of NJ Federal Judge's Son, Husband: FBI."     WNBC.   20 July 2020.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more