Police Seek To Identify Car Suspected In Murder Of Florida State University Law Professor

1405809806000-Dan-MarkelIt is hard to believe that it has been a year since the murder of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel on July 18, 2014. There has been no arrests in the case but this week the police released a picture of the car that they believe may have been involved in the crime.

Markel, 41, was an extremely talented and popular teacher and writer. He taught at Florida State University College of Law and the founder of Prawfsblawg, a popular legal blog. All such deaths without witnesses (called “unattended incidents”) are investigated as possible homicides. Police believe Markel was “targeted’ and murdered. He was found dead after a neighbor called police about hearing a “loud bang.” Markel left behind two young sons, ages 3 and 5. He was going through a divorce from his wife. He was known to be someone devoted to his children and to his academic work.

The police in Florida now have released the description of a car in the murder.


Surveillance photos captured the Prius, a 2006 to 2009 model with tinted windows and painted “Silver Pine Mica.” The police noted a number of identifying elements like a missing a tow-bolt cover on the front bumper, a mismatching black housing on the passenger-side mirror, and what appeared to be a toll transponder in the center of the windshield.

There is still a $25,000 reward through Crime Stoppers for anonymous tips about the case, as well as a new, separate reward of up to $100,000 from “an independent source” for information provided to police that leads to an arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.

Source: ABA Journal

14 thoughts on “Police Seek To Identify Car Suspected In Murder Of Florida State University Law Professor”



    Ronni Sue Chasen (October 17, 1946[1] – November 16, 2010) was an American publicist, who once represented such actors as Michael Douglas, as well as musicians such as Hans Zimmer and Mark Isham, among others. Chasen directed the Academy Award campaigns for more than 100 films during her career, including Driving Miss Daisy in 1989 and The Hurt Locker in 2009.[2]

    Chasen was shot and killed November 16, 2010, while driving home from the premiere of the film Burlesque.[2] Police concluded that unemployed felon Harold Martin Smith killed her during a random robbery.[3]

    On December 1, 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported that a man believed to be involved with Chasen’s murder committed suicide after being confronted by police at the Harvey Apartments on Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood and that the suspect in Ronni Chasen’s slaying had been under police surveillance before he killed himself.[15]

  2. Paul, Government employees have a much different time schedule than the real world. A year for them can be a week in the real world. Add their sloth like tendencies, w/ cops never wanting to give out information, and that probably explains the long delay.

  3. wonderer

    I sure hope that the authorities are searching for any possible links with the toll transponder and other similar vehicles. In my opinion, the toll transponder’s registration/ownership is key is helping to solve this murder.

  4. I don’t know about Florida, but at least here in CA, toll transponders have to be registered with make/model/color of the vehicle. I wonder if there’s anything that stops the toll authority from querying their database for Priuses matching the description.

  5. Darren:

    “A comment: This is one of the reasons I believe front license plates should be mandated in all states. Having the license plate would have made this investigation into the vehicle orders of magnitude easier.”

    Completely agree.

    1. Karen – I think drivers should be compelled to paste a picture of their likeness on the windshield so we can identify them

  6. I do not understand waiting a year to put out info on the car. That would be the one identifiable thing the public can find.

  7. Darren,

    Do you still think that this was murder and not a suicide? Why, after a year, has the Police Department not released any additional info? How many law professors are murdered by the Mafia every year? (At first, the Florida Police Department thought a certain occult or Mafia type group was behind the death of the law professor). I am still waiting on more information from the PD, before I can rule out suicide. In a case of a law professor being ‘murdered’ and no real leads after a year, besides a picture of a car with no plates, is either ‘interesting’ Police work (since they are still holding onto info) or someone who is an expert at murder for hire?

  8. Wonder if there’s any way to enhance the photo to such an extent as to somehow pick up info on the toll transponder? With all of the identifying marks on this Prius, no one can identify it? How widely and extensively has this photo been disseminated in the area?

  9. Check his emails in the weeks before the killing. Contact the NSA. They have them.

  10. This is helpful information but to narrow this information down will be a matter of parsing through many databases to arrive at reducing the possibilities of who this car might be registered to.

    The process will involve several elements. The Vehicle Identification Number system can be helpful. Each vehicle has a unique number which contains maker, year, model, color and other features for when it was manufactured. Using these as a mask the DMV database will show several candidates.

    Unfortunately the vehicle does not have a front license plate and most states in the South, including Florida, do not require front license plates. This will involve multiple states

    The next step could be to cross-reference this list with those vehicles listed as having Toll Stickers. The problem is that these databases might not talk to one another so merging them could be problematic, especially between the various states. I suspect it will require system administrators to accomplish this rather manually.

    While this is helpful, I suspect it will only reduce the numbers to thousands of matches. But, from there it could be merged with likely suspects but this will be a painstaking process.

    The best hope is for someone to recognize the vehicle, though it likely will tip off the murderer who might then conceal the identification elements.

    A comment: This is one of the reasons I believe front license plates should be mandated in all states. Having the license plate would have made this investigation into the vehicle orders of magnitude easier.

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