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Crime

Dan Markel & Wendi Adelson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Wendi Adelson

In July 2014, Florida law professor Dan Markel was shot in the head and left for dead while pulling into his driveway at his home in Tallahassee. His ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, was later brought in for questioning. Police subsequently believed that there was a link between Adelson’s family and Markel’s accused killers, who were indicted on charges of first-degree murder in 2016.

Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate Markel’s death. Here’s what you need to know about Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel:


1. Their Divorce Was Finalized a Year before His Death

Markel’s death occurred about a year after his divorce was finalized. In the words of ABC, the couple’s “bitter” legal battle involved property, cash, and Adelson’s mother wanting access to their children.

In an essay for a writing class Adelson took in South Florida, she discussed her relationship with Markel, explaining, “We married when I was in my mid-20s, when I thought I could cheat the system and marry a man I lacked passion and love for because, hey, didn’t that die anyway during marriage? I saw his intellect and big heart, and thought he would make a wonderful father for my children. Our marriage dissolved after the children arrived, as the loneliness of being married to someone that didn’t view me as an equal crept in. I do believe he loved me the best way he knew how. I mean, he didn’t like fiction, so why read my novel? It was logic, not a lack of love.”

Adelson added, “It feels sacrilegious these days even to suggest something less than heroic about my late ex-husband because he was murdered.”

Markel and Adelson were married in February 2006. They separated in 2012, with their divorce finalized in 2013. Together, Markel and Adelson have two sons, Lincoln and Benjamin, born in 2009 and 2010.


2. Adelson’s Initial Interview with Police Lasted over 5 Hours

After Markel was taken to the hospital with two gunshot wounds to the head, police located Adelson, who was having a meal at a local restaurant. They drove her to the police station, where she began to break down in sobs.

Surveillance footage shows Adelson saying, “What happened? … I just don’t understand? How could this happen?… My ex-husband caused me a lot of grief, but I would never do something like that.”

Adelson also said she feared that whoever shot Markel would come for her and her children next.

In May 2016, a man named Sigfredo Garcia was arrested for Markel’s murder. The affidavit revealed that Garcia was aided by a man named Luis Rivera, and the pair drove from Miami to Tallahassee prior to the shooting. At the time of Markel’s passing, Wendi’s brother Charlie was dating Katherine Magbanua, who is the mother of Garcia’s children.

A 2016 article in the Tallahassee Democrat reports, “Garcia and Rivera were ‘enlisted’ to kill Markel, arresting documents say, in connection with his acrimonious divorce from his ex-wife Wendi Adelson.”


3. Adelson’s Ex-Boyfriend Suggested Her Family Was Involved in the Murder

In his interview with police, Adelson’s ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Lacasse, told the police, “The family desperately wants [Wendi] back in South Florida. … They hate Danny in a way. I have never seen this kind of obsession. I mean, their hobby is hating Danny,” Lacasse said. “I would just say, I would be investigating Charlie Adelson. I don’t know if he did this, but if you are looking at someone, don’t miss him.”

Lacasse added, “She told me that Charlie had looked into having Danny killed in the summer of 2013… She meant it dead serious. He said it would cost about $15,000.”

When he took the stand, Lacasse later said, “I didn’t know what to make of it… My stomach flipped. It was a chilling statement and I didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time,” according to The Tallahasse Democrat.

Lacasse is a fellow professor at Florida State University. In 2014, Wendi told authorities she suspected he played a role in Markel’s murder, however, he was cleared after police proved he was out of state at the time of Markel’s death.


4. Wendi Works as an Immigration Lawyer

Today, Wendi works as an immigration lawyer. She has been the executive director of The Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund since 2017. Prior to that, she was an attorney for the US Court of Appeals for the 11th circuit.

Wendi, according to her LinkedIn page, attended the University of Miami Law, and was a visiting student at Florida State University College of Law.

She attended Bradeis University from 1997 to 2001, where she received her BA in American/US Studies/Civilization and Peace and Conflict Studies, and graduated magna cum laude with a 3.9 GPA.

Adelson has written about Dan’s death and recited the piece on a podcast, which you can listen to here.


5. Markel Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard

Markel was born in Toronto, Canada, on October 8, 1972. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, where he majored in politics and philosophy. Markel earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2001.

Markel was a law clerk to a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before working as a law professor at FSU, where he started working in 2005. In 2010, he was tenured. In 2009, he co-authored a book, Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties. The former professor also wrote opinion pieces for publications like The New York Times, Slate, and The Atlantic.

Prosecutors have argued that Markel’s death was the result of a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by Charlie and Donna Adelson. No one in the Adelson family has been charged. All deny being involved in Markel’s death.

Be sure to tune into tonight’s episode of 20/20 to learn more about Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson.

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