Wednesday, December 7, 2022

‘Life sentence’: Mother of Florida lawyer killed in murder-for-hire plot details family’s fight for justice

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The mom of a prominent Florida attorney who was gunned down in an alleged murder-for-hire plot described the moments she discovered of her son’s violent dying – and her persevering with quest for justice years later.

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“The truth of my life is defined by my son’s murder,” Ruth Markel wrote in “The Unveiling: A Mother’s Reflection on Murder, Grief and Trial Life.” “I am seventy-seven years old and will likely die before reaching the small satisfaction of any kind of meaningful justice.”

Ruth Markel misplaced her solely son, Dan, on the morning of July 18, 2014 – simply minutes after she had spoken with him over the telephone. In “The Unveiling,” one of her many books, she described not solely how her household has chosen to recollect “Danny,” but in addition the “life sentence” she herself is serving as she and her household await solutions as to who hired hitmen to ambush and execute him. 

“Ma, I have to take this call,” and, “talk to you later,” had been the final phrases she heard from him, she wrote.

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Dan Markel (proper) is the topic of a brand new Wondery podcast titled “Over My Dead Body.”

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Dan Markel, 41, was a divorced father of two and a revered Florida State University regulation professor when he was gunned down whereas pulling into the storage of his Tallahassee, Florida, house. 

“Life’s progression comes to a stop when you lose a child. It feels like nothing is happening as it should, and everything is flipped upside down,” Markel wrote. “I often think that I have been sentenced for life. That Dan’s murder is also my life sentence: a void-like landscape of traumatic flashbacks, anguish, and prolonged anxiety.”

Markel added: “My hope is that things will get better when justice prevails. In the case of Dan, this has not happened yet.”

Katherine Magbanua

Katherine Magbanua
(Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

Dan was on the telephone on the time with a instructor from a constitution college that his youngsters had been probably going to be attending, Ruth defined in her guide. “There’s someone next to me,” had been his closing phrases earlier than the shooter started firing off rounds.

Over eight years later, 4 folks have been arrested – together with Markel’s former brother-in-law, Charlie Adelson. 

Katherine Magbanua, Charlie’s ex-girlfriend, was sentenced to life in jail for Markel’s homicide, and is reportedly scheduled to fulfill with prosecutors for questioning later this month.  

Luis Rivera (left) and Sigfredo Garcia, the men who were said to have been hired to kill Dan Markel

Luis Rivera (left) and Sigfredo Garcia, the boys who had been mentioned to have been employed to kill Dan Markel
(Federal Bureau of Prisons/Broward County Sheriff’s Office )

Sigfredo Garcia, the daddy of Magbanua’s youngsters, was convicted in 2019 of first-degree homicide, and has appealed his conviction. His confederate, Luis Rivera in the end pleaded responsible to second-degree homicide and testified in Magbanua’s May 2022 trial. He described how Magbanua acted as a go-between for Charlie Adelson and the alleged hitmen.

Meanwhile, Charlie Adelson, a 45-year-old former dentist, is scheduled to go to trial subsequent yr on prices of first-degree homicide, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree homicide for allegedly hiring Garcia and Rivera to hold out the hit. 


For over an hour, Markel described to Fox News Digital her love and adoration for Dan’s youngsters; her appreciation of the assist and the eye towards the case; and her unrelenting effort – whereas troublesome – to seek out solutions to questions she by no means imagined she’d need to ask. 


This undated photo shows Dan "Danny" Markel and his two sons

This undated photograph exhibits Dan “Danny” Markel and his two sons
(Photo courtesy of Ruth Markel)

Ruth Markel described in “The Unveiling” her household’s suspicions instantly following the news of her son’s dying. Ruth was in Montreal visiting household when she first discovered what had occurred. 

She instantly broke the news to her family members, with one uncle responding in Yiddish, “Machatunim … Machatunim”

“The in-laws. The in-laws,” Markel wrote in the guide. “He was talking about the Adelsons, Wendi’s family.”

Attorneys for Charlie, Donna and Harvey Adelson declined to remark when contacted by Fox News Digital with particular excerpts from the guide. Wendi’s lawyer, John Lauro, additionally declined to make a public remark. 

An August 2016 assertion signed by a number of attorneys representing the Adelson household known as “unsupported speculation” of the Adelsons’ involvement in Markel’s homicide “categorically false,” in line with multiple reports.

“To be clear, none of the Adelsons – Wendi, her brother Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey – had anything to do with Dan’s murder,” the assertion continued. 

This photo provided by Broward County Sheriff’s Office shows Charles Adelson. Adelson, a Florida dentist who was arrested on charges that he hired hit men eight years ago to kill his sister’s ex-husband, a prominent law professor.

This photograph supplied by Broward County Sheriff’s Office exhibits Charles Adelson. Adelson, a Florida dentist who was arrested on prices that he employed hit males eight years in the past to kill his sister’s ex-husband, a outstanding regulation professor.
((Broward County Sheriff’s Office through AP))

It later described how police and investigators had “spent the past two years reviewing every shred of evidence out there – every phone record, financial record, text message, email, internet search, everything.”

The assertion went on: “We understand why the government has put the Adelson family through this type of severe scrutiny. But nothing has turned up that supports this fanciful fiction that the Adelsons were involved … There is a reason that the police have not arrested any of the Adelsons – they weren’t involved in Dan’s death.”

Charlie Adelson, Wendi’s brother, was arrested in April 2022.


Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, and her mother and father, Donna and Harvey Adelson, haven’t been charged in connection along with his dying. 

JULY 18, 2014

Tallahassee Police Department Public information officer David Northway reveals an image of Sigfredo Garcia, 34, during a press conference in Tallahassee, Fla., Thursday, May 26, 2016. Garcia is wanted for the murder of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel. Markel was killed in his Tallahassee home in July 2014. 

Tallahassee Police Department Public information officer David Northway reveals a picture of Sigfredo Garcia, 34, throughout a press convention in Tallahassee, Fla., Thursday, May 26, 2016. Garcia is needed for the homicide of Florida State University regulation professor Dan Markel. Markel was killed in his Tallahassee house in July 2014. 
(Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat through AP)

Tallahassee Police Department investigators have mentioned Markel dropped his youngsters off at daycare round 8:50 a.m. roughly 5 miles from his house after which made his strategy to Premier Health and Fitness Center, the place he arrived round 9:12 a.m., in line with a probable cause affidavit shared online in 2016.

Police discovered {that a} Toyota Prius had adopted Markel not solely into the car parking zone of the health facility, however was additionally “trailing Markel’s car” earlier than and after his time in the fitness center.

“Investigators believe the suspects in the Prius followed the victim throughout the morning and back to this residence, where the victim was shot in the head as he sat in his car,” the affidavit states. “Markel’s neighbor heard what he believed to be a gunshot and looked out the window, where he saw a small silver or light-colored vehicle, resembling a Prius, backing out of the victim’s driveway.”

The neighbor, recognized in “The Unveiling” as a person named James Geiger, rushed to the Markel’s storage to seek out him “in a pool of blood,” Ruth Markel wrote. 

“You need to send an ambulance in a hurry,” Geiger may very well be heard in 911 name audio. “He is still alive. He is moving.”

Emergency responders arrived 19 minutes later. Markel was rushed to an area hospital, however in the end couldn’t be saved. 


Dan Markel in this undated photo

Dan Markel in this undated photograph

While married, Dan and Wendi confronted a number of points that not solely created rigidity between the couple, however between Dan’s and Wendi’s households the guide states. 

One of these subjects, Markel wrote, was Dan’s want that their two sons be raised in a conservative, kosher Jewish family.

A second “big issue,” Ruth wrote, was the place the couple selected to reside. 

“Wendi disliked Tallahassee,” Markel wrote. “Wendi would only move to warm states as well as Washington, D.C. In reality, because she had young children, the only place she really wanted to live was in Miami, where her family was.”

Meanwhile, Dan had spiritual and group roots in Tallahassee, and a job that had “taken off,” she wrote. 

In August 2016, attorneys for Wendi Adelson (pictured) and several family members said in a statement that speculation they had a role in Dan’s death is "categorically false."

In August 2016, attorneys for Wendi Adelson (pictured) and a number of other members of the family mentioned in a press release that hypothesis they’d a task in Dan’s dying is “categorically false.”
(YouTube/Democracy Lives in Miami )

After the couple had break up, Adelson’s efforts to maneuver the kids out of Tallahassee and nearer to her household had been shot down, at which level the “situation intensified,” Markel wrote. 

“Donna felt caged in and continued sending Wendi strong emails. Donna would try anything to gain control over the children and get them away from Dan,” Markel wrote. “Donna became obsessed with her hatred of Dan and kept on coming up with new plots for Wendi to move to the Miami area.”

In emails from the yr earlier than Dan’s dying, Donna allegedly used derogatory phrases related to Judaism and wrote: “Tell Dan that the kids will probably be baptized in the Catholic church so long as he needs you to stay in Tallahassee.”

According to Markel, “Donna even documented to Wendi how the family was prepared to offer Dan $1 million to allow Wendi to move to South Florida, using a split of funds between Wendi herself, her parents, and her brother Charlie.”

Daniel Markel

Daniel Markel
(Florida State University)

After Dan’s dying, Wendi Adelson testified on the trial for Magbanua in May 2022. Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman referenced an electronic mail alternate between Adelson and Donna Adelson in asking what her mom felt was “the most important part of your divorce.”

“That was relocation,” Adelson responded. 

She later mentioned her proximity to her mother and father was not the only purpose why she wished to maneuver. She acknowledged that, “it was absolutely a reason.” 


After Markel’s dying, Wendi Adelson stayed in Tallahassee “for a few days” earlier than transferring away from the world, she testified. She informed the prosecutor she didn’t really feel protected. She later went on to vary her youngsters’s final names from Markel to Adelson, and alter one of their son’s center names, regardless of its alleged symbolism and significance to the Markel household. 


Dan Markel and his mother, Ruth Markel, in this undated photo provided by the family. 

Dan Markel and his mom, Ruth Markel, in this undated photograph supplied by the household. 
(Photo supplied by Ruth Markel)

But questions surrounding who was concerned in the hit stay, at the same time as time passes. 

Though police haven’t charged Wendi’s mother and father in reference to the crime, they’ve pointed to proof of the couple’s involvement, and have named them “unindicted co-conspirators.”

Questions surrounding who was concerned in the hit stay, at the same time as time passes. 

Though police haven’t charged Wendi’s mother and father in connection with the crime, they’ve pointed to proof of her mom’s involvement, and named Donna an “unindicted co-conspirator,” Markel wrote. 

Markel cited sure details that arose throughout or across the trial that alluded to the household’s alleged involvement. 

Investigators, she wrote, discovered that Donna Adelson had written checks to Magbanua from the household’s dentistry enterprise’ account. During trial, Rivera testified beneath oath that Donna’s “paychecks to Magbanua began immediately following Dan’s murder in even increments written on sequential checks.”

But investigators had “found no specific evidence that Magbanua was doing any official work for the family’s business or for Charlie himself, despite receiving regular paychecks, which contributed toward the total amount Rivera admitted the three were paid for the murder,” she added. 

And Rivera informed investigators, and the courtroom, that he was paid with money that had been “stapled.” One of Charlie Adelson’s earlier girlfriend testified that Charlie “stapled his cash,” Markel wrote. 

Meanwhile, prosecutors pressed Wendi throughout her May testimony about feedback she allegedly made throughout her interview with police after Markel’s dying.

One of the things you said was that your family very much disliked him and that you thought it was possible that someone had done this on your behalf,” Cappleman contended to Adelson, who didn’t agree that she had made that particular assertion. 

Charlie Adelson additionally allegedly made jokes greater than as soon as about hiring a hitman. Wendi testified at Magbanua’s trial that her brother had as soon as informed an “off-color joke.”

“He had bought me a TV when I got divorced and said it was a present and made a very bad joke, in bad taste, that it was cheaper than hiring a hitman,” Adelson mentioned.  

Asked whether or not Charlie made the joke as soon as or a number of instances, Wendi Adelson mentioned her brother “has a tendency to repeat himself, so everything he says, he says multiple times.”

She mentioned he had made the joke “definitely twice at least.” 

Asked if she was “involved in the plot to kill your husband,” Adelson responded: “Absolutely not.”

Rivera, who pleaded responsible and agreed to testify at Magbanua’s trial, informed investigators the rationale for the hit was as a result of “the lady wants her kids back.” 


Wendi Adelson’s lawyer, John Lauro, declined Wednesday to supply remark concerning the case. In May, he informed Fox News Digital the tragedy “has had a terrible effect on Wendi and her sons.”

“For anybody to suggest that she would put her sons through such pain and horrific agony is just absurd and mean-spirited,” Lauro mentioned in May. He added: “[For] almost eight years now, the police have done an intensely thorough investigation of Wendi. They have found not a single email, text, recorded conversation, phone record – anything – that implicates Wendi at all. Zero … The bottom line is that if there was something that tied Wendi to this horrific crime – and there’s not – we would have seen it in real evidence.”

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