Dan Markel was the ‘intended victim’ of his shooting. Do you look at Wendi Adelson, then?

Dan Markel, well-known and popular in the legal professor community, was ostensibly murdered at his home in Tallahassee a few days ago. This is a good collection of links related to the story as it now stands. The initial crux of this story was that it was probably a home invasion gone bad — there had been a string of robberies in the general neighborhood in the weeks prior. However, almost every single article about this case mentions Dan Markel’s ongoing divorce with Wendi Adelson, including this nugget:

In February 2006, Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson got married (here is their New York Times wedding announcement). At the time of their marriage, Wendi Adelson, then 26, was a third-year law student at the University of Miami, and Markel, then 33, was already a professor at FSU Law. Adelson later followed her husband into legal academia; she is currently a clinical professor in FSU’s public interest law center. Markel and Adelson had two sons, Lincoln and Benjamin.

At some point, Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson’s marriage unraveled. In 2012, Adelson filed for divorce. Although the divorce was finalized in 2013, you can see from the docket that legal fights over child custody and finances continued into this year. I do know, from a conversation I had with Markel last year and from mutual friends, that his split from Adelson was highly contentious.

There’s more docket information on their custody battles here; I’m not saying Wendi Adelson should necessarily be a suspect, but the whole idea of motherhood — i.e. the stuff with mothers being able to lift cars to save their children — has a dark side too. Mothers can hire out guys to kill their ex-husbands as well. If you’ve seen one true crime show with a story arc like that, you’ve seen about 20.

Here’s the official word out of Adelson’s legal side:

Prof. Markel’s death has left his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, terrified that whoever is responsible might come after other family members, according to her attorney. The pair, who divorced last year, have two boys, aged five and three.

“She’s devastated by it,” said Jimmy Judkins, her lawyer. “She’s a basket case over the plight of her children now. She’s scared because she doesn’t know who did this or why it occurred and it’s got her thinking the worst in so many different ways.”

I’m a huge believer in innocent until proven guilty, although I’m also a huge believer that you need to conclusively eliminate the spouse and ties to the spouse first. The percentage of cases where a murder victim knows his/her murderer is staggeringly high — definitely over 50 percent. Passions run deep in a marriage, especially one with two small children. Adelson needs to be the first look; since the cops seem to be conclusively stating that this wasn’t a robbery, well, there’s probably some tie somewhere else.

Here’s Wendi Adelson’s blog — her focus is human trafficking — and here’s an E-Book she wrote about the trafficking industry. Her official FSU profile is here. She was also a Truman Scholar:

If you need other theories, here’s an idea that Dan Markel was “Travyon’ed.” If you want some additional context on his role in the legal academic world, read this.

Ted Bauer


  1. The docket link is dead. I did see the docket a while back, and I was amazed at what bitter feelings it seemed to show. As I recall, Wendi Adelson was asking for contempt sanctions against Dan Markel, and motions were flying like brickbats. It’s surprising that this hasn’t been reported more, when it’s such an obvious motive compared to psychotic internet trolls.

    • The Adelson’s have a track record of unbridled anger against those who interfere with their best interest. Of course that is a one sided argument – all consuming from the Adelson point of view. Then there’s Charlie – he is the personification of “above the law”. His whole life and persona has been based on that conclusion. The Adelson family have circled around Charlie – a parent protecting their child without any consideration that miser is murder and two children are left with no father.

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