The Markel Murder: The Killing of FSU Law Professor Takes Sudden Turn with Arrest of Ex-Brother-in-Law

We have previously discussed the murder of Florida State University Law Professor Dan Markel (left) and suspicions that the family of his wife (and fellow FSA faculty member) Wendi Adelson conspired in the murder. Now, Adelson has taken the stand in the murder trial of one of the alleged accomplices just two weeks after the arrest of her brother, Charlie Adelson, right, for the murder. Wendi previously seemed to implicate her brother in her initial interview with police while maintaining that she knew nothing about a murder plot of her estranged husband. The trial involved Katherine Magbanua who was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder.

In 2016, we ran a series of columns on the bizarre murder and the allegations against the Adelson family.

First a recap to bring you back up to speed.

Adelson and Markel married in 2006 when she was a third-year law student at the University of Miami and he was a criminal law professor at FSU. News accounts say that Markel returned from a business trip to find the kids and his wife gone with divorce papers left on the bed — the start of a highly acrimonious divorce.

Sigfredo-Garcia-Luis-Rivera-300x174Magbanua is the mother of two children with Sigfredo Garcia, one of the two accused hit men (with Luis Rivera). Police say that Garcia and Rivera were “enlisted” to kill Markel in connection with his divorce from Adelson. Police traced a rental to the scene of the crime. The police have made little secret of their suspicion of Charles Adelson and his mother Donna Adelson. The family wanted Wendi Adelson to move with the children near them. Police became suspicious after learning that Magbanua is connected to Garcia and that she spoke more than 2,000 times to Garcia in the weeks leading up to the slaying. Prosecutors now say Charlie Adelson paid for half of a $6,000 to $7,000 breast implant surgery done by Dr. Leonard Roudner, also known as “Dr. Boobner.” That surgery occurred notably in October 2014, roughly three months after Markel’s killing. Police sought the medical records despite the insistence of Charlie Adelson’s lawyer that it was “a fishing expedition.” The court did not see it that way and granted the subpoena to confirm the surgery and payments.

Magbanua’s warrant said that Wendi’s mother was particularly upset after Markel had filed a motion to require that the children’s visitation with Wendi’s mother be supervised. He cited allegations by the children that she had called Markel “stupid” and asserted he was “taking her sunshines away from her.” Moreover, the cellphone records show that after Magbanua spoke with Charlie Adelson, he would often call his mother, Donna. For her part, Magbanua would call Garcia. Indeed, police cite “a flurry of communications between the alleged conspirators.”

Police also suggest that Magbanua was given a “significant increase” in cash bank deposits after the murder and she received paychecks from the family dental business. The thrust of the warrant is clearly more about the Adelson family than Magbanua.

Rivera has stated that he and Garcia (who reportedly pulled the trigger) saw Wendi Adelson, eyeing their car. When Garcia asked why the woman with the children was staring at them, he says that Garcia told him “Oh, that’s the lady. That’s Wendi.”

We previously discussed the police station interview of Adelson. The videotape is very emotional and at times bizarre.

In the 2014 interview, the detective tells her “That’s what this is about. There was a shooting at your home, or your ex-husband’s home. [He] has been taken to the hospital. He’s not going to survive.”  Adelson bursts into tears and exclaims  “Oh, my God,” Adelson says, sobbing throughout. “What happened. …I just don’t understand? How could this happen?”

Wendi tells the detective “I’m scared. I don’t know why this would happen . . .  It really scares me because, I mean, if there’s someone out there that’s willing to do this to him. … I’m scared for the kids.”

Given the focus on her brother, a couple of statements stand out.  She says that she is “scared someone maybe did this – not because they hate Danny but because they thought this was good somehow.”  She then admits that her brother joked with her earlier that day about how a television might be cheaper than a hit man to deal with the problems in her life.

“And I was talking to him about whether it made sense to pay to fix it or I should get a new one,” she said. “And it was always his joke that, like, he knew that Danny treated me badly, and it was always his joke, he said, I looked into hiring a hit man but it was cheaper to get you this TV.”

Adelson maintained the same line on the stand in the trial this week of Magbanua.

The testimony had one new element, however, given the arrest of her brother who is now charge with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder

The police have never made a secret of their suspicion of the Adelson family. While the brother was the focus of the investigation, his mother and even his sister Wendi have been the subject of speculation as co-conspirators.  They deny the allegations.

The wealthy family runs a dental practice in South Florida. They wanted the kids relocated near them — a move that Markel “adamantly opposed.”

One of the reasons for the sudden arrest of Charlie was the enhancement of a secret recording between Charlie Adelson and Magbanua in which he discussed her resisting efforts to get her to talk.

The conviction this week could put even greater pressure on Magbanua to cooperate against Charile Adelson.

In this trial, Rivera,  who pleaded guilty to Markel’s murder, admitted that he did the murder with his childhood friend Garcia, who was also convicted. He said Garcia hired him and that Magbanua paid them upon their return to Miami from Tallahassee” “It was all paid—it was me, Sigfredo, Katie got paid.”

The question is who paid them and whether, if guilty, whether Charlie was the only Adelson in on the alleged plot.

17 thoughts on “The Markel Murder: The Killing of FSU Law Professor Takes Sudden Turn with Arrest of Ex-Brother-in-Law”

  1. Incomprehensible. I’ll say the same thing I say to my students: if you won’t read it, Mr. Turley, why do you expect me to?

  2. Jonathan: Speaking of murder Trump is mad as hell. His favored candidate in Georgia, David Purdue, got “murdered” in the GOP primary. election by Brian Kemp–73% to 21%. Trump guards his money jealously but he put $2.64 million into Perdue’s campaign. To no avail. The voters were not impress by Trump’s endorsement. It was all about revenge–getting back at Kemp for refusing to endorse Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 election. And where does Trump place the blame for his devastating loss in Georgia? Not himself. Trump blames Perdue for being “lazy” and for being an “embarrassment” to the former president.

    Trump’s excuses are almost ludicrous. He turned “lazy” into an art form when he was in the White House. Trump blocked out large sections of his schedule so he could watch coverage of himself on cable TV and would often not read important daily briefings. Trump also played a lot of golf–far exceeding the number of rounds he had repeatedly criticized Barak Obama for playing while he was president. Remember what Trump told the American people when he won the 2016 election? “I won’t have time for golf. I will be working hard for the American people”. Poor Donald. The magic is wearing thin. The glow from Trump’s “MAGA” hat is apparently losing its luster–at least in Georgia. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

    1. “The magic is wearing thin.”

      Trump’s endorsement record is about 64-3. I wish my “magic” were that thin.

    2. People who place entries with their Trump obsessions in irrelevant pages need to be banned. It’s such a bore & certainly would motivate to vote for suspensions across all digital okatforms

  3. Jonathan: Why is a murder case in FL so important? A holiday and nothing else going on? Hardly. There are a number of important issues coming out of the mass killings in Buffalo and now in Evalde, TX that call for some serious analysis. We still don’t know the possible motives that prompted Salvadore Ramos to massacre 19 children and 2 teachers. There is only speculation because dead men don’t tell their tales. But in the Buffalo case we know quite a bit about the motives of the shooter because he left a “Manifesto”. In that long doc he complains that the white race is in jeopardy. He specifically cites the “Great Replacement Theory” (GRT) to explain why he killed 10 Black people. What is the GRT and what role did it play in many of the recent mass shootings?

    The GRT has been around since the 1900s. It was revived in 2011 when a white French nationalist published “Le Grand Remplacement”. The book is based on the anti-semitic trope that Jews are behind a systematic attempt to replace white people with immigrants and Black people. In 2019 the shooter was inspired by GRT when he slaughtered 51 in New Zealand. The GRT inspired the 2018 killing of 11 Jewish worshippers at the Pittsburgh synagogue and the shooting at the synagogue in Poway, CA. The GRT also inspired the white racists who marched in Charlottesville in 2017 shouting: “Jews will not replace us!”. A young woman was killed.

    And who has been pushing the GRT? The list is very long. David Duke, former grand wizard of the KKK, used it in his many campaigns. Before he died Rush Limbaugh pushed the false theory. Fox’s Tucker Carlson backs the conspiracy theory–as does Laura Ingram and Jeanine Pirro who all say the Dems are trying to import non-whites to take over our elections and prevent GOP candidates from winning. This racist trope is also being pushed by GOP politicians and GOP candidates for office. GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik supports GRT. Referring to the Buffalo shooting she said: “Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote”. Donald Trump is also a big supporter GRT–along with Rep, Matt Gaetz, Sen. Ron Johnson, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former House speaker Newt Gingrich–and many other GOP politicians. Those who espouse GRT don’t push the anti-semitic aspect of the theory because Jews constitute a powerful voting bloc. The most extreme and violent versions of GRT can be found in the darker corners of the internet, such as 4chan and other fringe forums. While most GOP politicians and media personalities don’t directly call for violence GRT is used at the fringe to recruit mostly white youth to to commit mass casualty crimes.

    What is to be done? Instead of discussing a murder in FL you could call out and condemn the purveyors of the GRT–a false conspiracy theory that has inspired anti-semitic and racist violence. But that would mean you would have to name names–Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingram and Jeanine Pirro–or maybe even Rupert Murdock who determines the talking points of the day at Fox. But you won’t do that because it might jeopardize your paid gig at Fox. I really don’t understand how you can look in the mirror every morning while you shave and say: ” What is the Fox talking point of the day I can echo in my next column”?

    1. Dennis: Please calm down! With regard to the GRT, you are seeing only one side or half of the picture. The Democrats have been promoting Identity Politics very aggressively lately based on the strategies of Antonio Gramsci. You are focusing only on the Republicans’ reaction. The Dan Markel Murder Case has been taking years to unwind. If you’re not interested in it, just skip over it. Hope this helps.

      1. Button: Apparently I pushed your “button”. If I choose to discuss the GRT that’s my free expression right. In case you didn’t get the memo this is supposed to be a “free speech” chatroom. The speaker chooses the subject and then you comment–if you choose. I try to select relevant issues related to what’s happening in the news. By the way, your use of trite phrases like “Identity Politics” or the “strategies of Antonio Gramsci” are not particularly illuminating. The last time I looked neither Nancy Pelosi nor Chuck Schumer has publicly endorsed the theories of Gramsci. Please enlighten us about how Gramsci is relevant here. Hope this helps.

    2. Yes, Fox talks about the ‘replacement’ plan being implemented by the Left. It is exactly what is happening with their policy of ‘open’ southern border. Where’s the lie?

  4. Dunno about you guys but I’ve never met a ‘Wendi’ who wasn’t a heaping’,helping’ of homicidal crazy

    1. I never known a murderous Wendy, but the few I’ve known have been airheads. It sounds like this particular Wendy was way out of her league. She didn’t have the brains to be a law professor nor involved in a murder conspiracy; the only thing she had going for her was being from a wealthy family which was able to put her into situations that exceeded her natural abilities.

  5. This is why true crime is fascinating. A novelist could not dream this up in their wildest imagination.

  6. Big fan of Mr. Turley, but I, too, had trouble understanding the story. It was very poorly written.

  7. Mr. Turley, I love reading your columns. But you have one weakness. Your grammar stinks. Please, for everyone who reads this blog, please get a copy editor. The amount of poor pronoun references, incorrect tense, and other rhetoric 101 errors makes reading this article in particular all the more challenging. I almost need a white board to keep track of the story.

    Keep up the good work.

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