FSU law professor fought ex-wife in the courts until murderous end

Daniel Markel said it was his worst nightmare.

The Florida State University law professor returned from a short business trip in September 2012 and found the home he shared with his wife and two children empty and devoid of most furniture.

Then he found the divorce papers his wife, Wendi Adelson, had placed on their bed.

What followed, according to divorce documents, was a court battle that raged for nearly two years, a clash over parental rights spiced by allegations of impertinent in-laws, hidden assets and stolen heirlooms.

New details in FSU law prof's murder show second suspect is South Florida Latin Kings gang leader

New details in FSU law prof’s murder show second suspect is South Florida Latin Kings gang leader

It’s a real-life mystery detectives say involves a South Florida Latin King, a slain Tallahassee law professor, his ex-wife and her family, who run a Tamarac dental practice.

New details are surfacing in the long-running investigation into the shocking murder of Daniel Markel, a Florida State University…

It’s a real-life mystery detectives say involves a South Florida Latin King, a slain Tallahassee law professor, his ex-wife and her family, who run a Tamarac dental practice.

New details are surfacing in the long-running investigation into the shocking murder of Daniel Markel, a Florida State University…

(Rebeca Piccardo and Paula McMahon)

During a news conference June 2, police said they think Markel was killed in a murder-for-hire plot. They said it appeared to be tied to his bitter divorce from Adelson, her parents’ “desperate desire” for her and the children to move to South Florida, and a court hearing that may have restricted access to their grandchildren, according to unsealed court documents.

On June 17, two men were indicted. Sigfredo Garcia, 34, and Luis Rivera, 33, a South Florida Latin King gang leader, are due back in court Monday — two years to the day since Markel was shot. More arrests are expected, authorities said.

“The Adelsons had absolutely nothing to do with Dan Markel’s murder,” Michael D. Weinstein, lawyer and family friend to the Adelsons, said Saturday from Norway, where he is vacationing. “There might be other people who had motive as well.”

An ‘abrupt and cruel departure’

The young couple married in February 2006 in Boca Raton. She was finishing law school at the University of Miami; he was an associate professor at FSU’s law school.

Their careers thrived. Markel was tenured in 2010 and promoted to full professor in 2012; Adelson was a clinical law professor, working at the Human Rights and Immigration Law Project at FSU. But after six years of marriage and two children, things fell apart — for Adelson, at least. Court filings on her behalf said she’d been “very unhappy” with her husband and their marriage. “Our marriage dissolved after the children arrived, as the loneliness of being married to someone who didn’t view me as an equal crept in,” Adelson said in a podcast for a writing class she took after Markel’s death.

She had the divorce papers ready before Markel left town, but she waited until he was gone to move out with help from her parents and a moving company, according to court documents.

Markel said Adelson took “whatever furniture and belongings she wanted for herself” and left without letting him know where she had taken their sons for six weeks. Eventually, he found out she had run home to her parents in Coral Springs; he made her come back with the children until a judge ruled in the case, investigators said.

Adelson’s “abrupt and cruel departure” — as Markel called it — shocked him and set the tone for the way their divorce played out.

In court filings, Markel always circled back to how his wife started all the nastiness by raiding their home and, more importantly, taking his children.

“Here there is an unquestionably devoted father and husband who rushes home to find his worst nightmare: his children are missing with no indication where they are,” according to court documents filed on his behalf.

Adelson had the upper hand and, Markel said, she tried to take advantage of him. In court documents, he said Adelson wanted to tie the children’s time-sharing to resolving their property issues, “which basically means she put them up for ransom.”

“If she wanted to leave the marriage because she fell out of love, that’s one thing. But she could have done so without also taking more than the necessities so that a proper and fair distribution could have immediately followed,” he said in court filings.

Tallahassee vs. South Florida

The couple’s main conflict was how and where they wanted to raise their two young sons.

Investigators said they found email evidence that Adelson’s parents, especially her mother, wanted her to “coerce” Markel to allow her and the kids to move to South Florida.

Wendi Adelson grew up in Coral Springs and graduated as valedictorian from J.P. Taravella High School. Her family runs the Adelson Institute for Esthetics and Implant Dentistry in Tamarac, where her father, Dr. Harvey Adelson, is a cosmetic dentist and her brother, Dr. Charlie Adelson, is a periodontist. Her mother, Donna, is the patient care coordinator.

Adelson sought primary custody and asked a judge to let her and the children move to Coral Springs, to be near her family. With a job lined up at a private law firm in Boca Raton, she said the move would give her sons stability and a better quality of life, according to court documents.

When the marriage blew up, there was nothing left for her in Tallahassee. She said the couple had always intended to move to South Florida or a major city to be near a larger Jewish community and neither had family in Tallahassee, said court documents filed on her behalf.

Adelson said she was stuck in a “hostile work environment” at the law school, where she had to face her colleagues after Markel told them she had mental health issues and stole from him.

“She is divorcing the husband due to her unhappiness with him and the marriage and she only moved out because she knew he would not,” according to a court document filed on her behalf. “He simply is having difficulty accepting her decision.”

Markel challenged the motion, saying it was “vague, filled with rank and obvious falsehoods, and the legal analysis is fundamentally inept.”

Tallahassee was the only home his sons had ever known, he argued, and he was an integral part of their lives. Because of his flexible teaching schedule, he took his sons to doctor’s appointments, cooked for them, bathed them and even visited their preschool for “circle time” and meals.

“There is no need for the children to be uprooted so that they can have a closer relationship with their maternal grandparents,” stated court documents filed on Markel’s behalf.

He accused his “affluent” in-laws of “bankrolling” her litigation so that they could enjoy easier access to the grandchildren.

A Leon County circuit judge denied Adelson’s request to leave, stating that she could not prove the move would be in the best interests of the children. Instead, the couple kept a parenting schedule to share the children equally.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-fsu-slain-professor-divorce-20160714-story.html

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