Mother of Convicted Dentist Arrested in Connection with 2014 Murder of Florida State Professor

Nov 16, 2023, 12:00 PM

Exactly one week after a wealthy Florida dentist, Charlie Adelson, was convicted of killing his sister’s husband, Dan Markel, his mother, Donna Adelson, 73, has been arrested in connection with the 2014 murder. The arrest took place at Miami Dade International Airport, where Donna Adelson and her husband, Harvey Adelson, were about to board a flight to Vietnam with a stop in Dubai.
 Donna Adelson was charged in connection with the shooting death of Dan Markel, a 41-year-old Florida State University law professor. She has been charged with murder, conspiracy, and solicitation, according to State Attorney Jack Campbell.
 Campbell explained the urgency of Donna's arrest, stating, "That's what forced our hand. We started talking to some of our law enforcement partners about the complexities of bringing someone back from Dubai or Vietnam. And that might be a very complicated and lengthy process. So that’s why we had to make a decision quickly."
 Prosecutors allege that Donna Adelson played a role in the murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the death of Dan Markel on July 18, 2014. Markel was shot twice in the head at point-blank range in the garage of his Tallahassee home. He was sitting in his car, talking on the phone when he was attacked and later died in the hospital.
 The charges against Donna Adelson stem from a complicated family feud and custody battle involving her daughter, Wendi Adelson, and Dan Markel. After their divorce, Wendi wanted to move to Miami with their two children, but a judge required her ex-husband's consent, which he refused to give. Emails indicate that Donna Adelson was pushing for the move and allegedly wanted her daughter to influence Markel's decision.
 Prosecutors argued that Donna Adelson "hated" her son-in-law, particularly after he asked the judge to limit her unsupervised visits with her grandchildren due to alleged disparaging remarks she made about him to the children.
 Emotions ran high in the family, as revealed in emails Donna allegedly sent her daughter before Markel's murder. She encouraged Wendi to take control of her life and make Markel miserable. Donna allegedly stated, "You have 5 weeks before your court date... I know you can be a good actress when you want to. I’ve seen you in action. You need to put on the performance of your life!"
 During Charlie Adelson's trial for his involvement in the murder, prosecutors argued that he orchestrated the murder-for-hire plot on behalf of his younger sister, Wendi. However, Wendi has denied any involvement and has never been charged.
 Prosecutors claimed that Charlie enlisted the help of his then-girlfriend, Katherine “Katie” Magbanua, to hire two men, Sigfredo “Tuto” Garcia and Luis “Tato” Rivera, to carry out the murder. Garcia was convicted in 2019 and sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy. Magbanua was sentenced to life in prison in 2022 after being convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and solicitation.
 During his trial, Charlie Adelson testified that he had nothing to do with Markel's murder and claimed he was extorted by Magbanua and the two men. He said he had no knowledge of the murder plot until after it happened and that he was threatened with harm if he didn't pay a substantial sum of money.
 Now, Donna Adelson faces charges related to the murder plot that has left a lasting impact on the Markel family and the Adelsons. The case continues to unravel a complex web of family dynamics, conspiracies, and legal battles, shedding light on the dark events that led to the tragic death of Dan Markel.
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