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.
— Truman Scholarship (@TrumanApp) May 14, 2014