Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

More Details Emerge Linking Adelson Family To Dan Markel's Murder

Adelson FamilySun Sentinel, The Story Behind FSU Professor's Slaying Detailed in New Evidence:

Wendi Adelson's boyfriend at the time also told investigators the brother should be considered as a suspect.

"I would be investigating Charlie Adelson," Jeffrey Lacasse, a professor in the College of Social Work at FSU, told an investigator during a recorded interview in July 2014. "If you got in front of this guy, he'd set off your radar. He set off my radar."

Lacasse said Charlie Adelson hung out with unsavory people. "He's a dentist and he's very wealthy, but he kind of hangs out with people from both sides of the tracks," he said during the interview. "You know, he goes boating in South Beach with his rich buddies and he also goes to his gym with some other kinds of characters."

Lacasse also told investigators Wendi Adelson told him her brother had looked into hiring a hit man and was told it would cost $15,000.

"Wendi had reported to me that Charlie had considered all the options possible to take care of this problem," he said. "She said it in a dead serious, chilling, uncomfortable way."

When investigators asked Lacasse how he thought Adelson would have committed the murder, he said: "He'd get his buddy in the special forces to do this, or he'd get some seedy guys down in the Cuban neighborhood or something like that." ...

With Markel gone, Adelson could finally leave Tallahassee and raise her sons in South Florida.

When she filed for divorce in September 2012, Adelson sought primary custody of their two sons and asked a judge to allow her and the children to move to Coral Springs to be near her family. The court denied her petition in 2013.

"That was probably the nastiest divorce I've ever seen," Tamara Demko, a friend of Markel's, told investigators. "I know she felt trapped here."

Investigators say Markel's murder appeared to be tied to his bitter divorce from Adelson, their ongoing legal battle over money and their children, and her parents' "desperate desire" for her and the children to move to South Florida.

"After exhausting all efforts to force or compel Markel into agreeing to allow his ex-wife and children to relocate to South Florida, the subject family members previously identified realized any hope of a legal remedy in their favor was futile," according to the warrant from Sept. 30.

During her interview with investigators, Adelson worried that her former in-laws would think she had something to do with Markel's death.

"The reason I say his parents are going to say I did it is because when we got divorced, I wanted to move to South Florida and I filed a petition to relocate in the court and the court said no," she said in the recorded interview. "So, we're in Tallahassee because of Danny's job."

After the judge denied Adelson's request to leave with her children, her mother, Donna Adelson, suggested the family offer Markel $1 million to get him to allow the relocation, according to the warrant signed on Sept. 30.

Wendi Adelson refused to go through with that plan, and her mother became "extremely upset," police said in the same report.

"She never wanted to be here ever. She came with Markel. They were supposed to be here a year and then move on," Lacasse, Adelson's former boyfriend, told police. "She never wanted to live here, never thought she would live here."

Lacasse later told investigators that Wendi Adelson said she switched her phone a few days after the shooting because she thought police had bugged it.

Markel's parents later contacted investigators in September 2015 to notify them that Wendi Adelson had changed the children's last names and removed her older son's middle name, which was the Hebrew name of Markel's maternal grandmother, investigators said in the report. ...

Tamara Demko, Markel's long-time friend, told investigators she drove to Adelson's house as soon as she heard the news and felt a strange tension when she saw Adelson's parents, whom she knew.

"There's just things that don't feel right to me," she told an investigator during a recorded interview the day after Markel was shot. "[Wendi Adelson] opened the door and she looked really calm. ...[Her mother] seemed appropriately upset, then her dad, who I've met a couple dozen times in Coral Springs and up here, he gave me this look. ... It was awkward and it never had been before. That really bothered me."

During a memorial service at Shomrei Torah Synagogue in Tallahassee, an investigator met with Wendi Adelson's parents to ask them for an interview before they returned to South Florida.

But the day after the service, the investigator received a call from Adelson's attorney, letting him know Adelson and the children had left for South Florida with her parents.

"No one in the family has contacted Tallahassee police or asked about the status of the investigation," investigators said in a police report.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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IIRC, Wendi Adelson was a contestant on The Weakest Link in 2003. Mrs. Robert Adelson, known professionally as Dr. Haritha Challapalli, was a candidate on Who Wants to be a Millionaire ten years later. I think they both took home some cash from these appearances. I'm a bit floored that a physician would have any familiarity with game shows at all. I doubt there was any connection between the two appearances other than one inspiring the other. Perhaps the sisters-in-law are competitive.

I think a certain pattern in 3-child families is quite common: two siblings close and the 3d out in the cold to a degree. I've certainly seen that pattern.

I imagine Dr. Adelson and Dr. Challapalli regard this whole business with dismay, like a crew in the lifeboat watching the Titanic go down, and keep themselves as busy as possible so they don't have to think about it.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 19, 2016 8:23:32 AM

I want to know what Sheldon Adelson has to say about this family drama.

Posted by: Lois Turner | Oct 19, 2016 8:03:09 AM

I'm sorry, but I'm just not seeing any evidence of intent here. No charges should be filed.

Posted by: James Comey (FBI) | Oct 18, 2016 11:40:48 AM

To second Art Deco, I'm curious to hear Robert Adelson's take on all this too. Somewhat interestingly, it seems to me as though Robert probably isn't estranged from the rest of his family or anything along those lines as both his wife & Wendi were contestants on whichever game show they were contestants on. I wonder who they knew to 'coincidentally' get both of them on the show...

Posted by: here here | Oct 18, 2016 11:02:19 AM

What's now evident is that this whole train-wreck is the issue of people who cannot tolerate anything standing between them and what they want at any given time, and a habit of looking at people outside their little organism as somehow unreal and not possessed of actual interests and immunities. You have to wonder if the older brother and his family, who made a series of odd career moves and relocated to a 3d tier city where it snows 5 months of the year, did so to put some distance between themselves and the toxic environment the other Adelsons created.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 18, 2016 8:30:05 AM