People Magazine, Colleagues of Murdered Florida Law Professor Suspected Link to Bitter Divorce from Ex-Wife: 'I Hope to God She Wasn't Involved':
Colleagues of the popular Florida law professor Dan Markel, who was fatally shot execution-style in July 2014, say they long feared the recent revelation by authorities who said his death was tied to a bitter divorce with his ex-wife, a fellow law professor.
"A number of people here – and that includes myself – had some suspicions about her family because of a number of things that Danny had confided," says Fernando Teson, another law professor at Florida State University who counted Markel and his then-wife Wendi Adelson as friends before she filed for divorce in 2012. "I see now that my instincts were right, but it's still just incredibly shocking that this would happen. I don't want to accuse anybody," he says, "but I always had a funny feeling that this had to be connected to the custody battle somehow." ...
Nothing said by police has connected the killing, or knowledge of it, to Wendi Adelson. In a news conference, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo did not identify any members of the Adelson family as persons of interest, but he noted that more arrests are expected. ...
The murder occurred as Markel's motion to restrict access to the boys by Adelson's mother, Donna, was pending, according to the arrest affidavit. That document also notes that Charlie Adelson "reportedly did not like Markel and did not get along with him."
The couple had been married for six years before Markel returned home from a trip in September 2012 to find "his family gone, a majority of the contents of the house missing and the paperwork for dissolution of marriage displayed on his bed," the arrest affidavit states.
After police said they believed Markel had been targeted, "the ugly divorce was the most logical explanation," says Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and friend of Markel's. "A lot of people hoped that the most logical explanation wasn't the most accurate, because it seems so horrifically tragic that as part of a fight over the custody of two innocent children, one side of the family would seek the demise of one of the parents."
Berman, speculating that Markel's brother-in-law had something to do with it, says, "The one thing I continue to wonder about is, was this the brother-in-law's kind of own deeply misguided way to help his family? Was there really a very consciously formed desire to truly execute Dan? Or was it just an effort to scare him?"
"What the particulars might be are among the questions that I think everybody in the community might still have, along with a deep sadness that a contentious domestic situation turned into such a tragic homicide."...
Says Markel's friend and former colleague Teson: "Everybody knew about the tension between the two. But actually Danny told me that the worst influence there was the mother. From the beginning the mother was instigating the divorce. There was a lot of influence on her side of the family to leave him. And also subsequently on the custody battle. That's what Danny told me."
"He was annoyed with them – that they were meddling, he thought, in the divorce," he says. "But I never sensed that he was fearful."
Given the sudden turn of events, many who knew the pair are keeping quiet. "People are very, very tight-lipped," says Teson. "They don't want to say anything. Many people were pretty close friends with Wendi."
"I assume that my colleagues, of course, are now keeping quiet out of prudence. You do not accuse people. Nor am I," he says. "I just think that to me, it was less of a surprise."
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