Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Trial Of Suspects In Dan Markel's Murder Nears As Friend Asks: What Should Happen When Your Mom and Brother Murder Your Ex?

Jason Solomon, What Should Happen When Your Mom and Brother Murder Your Ex?:

In 2014, Dan Markel — a law professor at Florida State University, loving father of two young boys, proud Jew, friend of mine — was brutally murdered by hitmen hired by his in-laws’ family, according to compelling evidence laid out by police and prosecutors. Investigators cited as motives the family’s “desperate desire” to have their daughter and grandkids live close to them in South Florida, and an upcoming court hearing that threatened to limit Dan’s mother-in-law’s unsupervised access to his kids. All of the murderers have not yet been brought to justice, though one of the hitmen has pleaded guilty and two others are scheduled for trial in September. ...

[T]here is another grave injustice in this tragic story. For the past three years, Dan’s ex-wife Wendi has denied Dan’s parents, Ruth and Phil Markel, the opportunity to visit and otherwise communicate with their grandkids. She has also changed their last names from Markel to her name, Adelson. ...

Though this may not be part of the Ten Commandments, let me suggest a related rule: When your mother and brother murder your ex-husband, you don’t get to complain about your in-laws being insufficiently supportive of your parenting. You don’t get to hold a grudge about something they did three years ago that rubbed you the wrong way, or wish they were stronger candidates for in-laws of the year. Or you shouldn’t, anyway. ...

I personally believe that Wendi had nothing to do with Dan’s death, as explained here. In retrospect, she clearly should have taken more seriously her brother’s talk of hiring a hitman, and unambiguously shut it down. Her culpability is likely to remain between her and her conscience.

But her boys are likely to try to draw clues from how she has behaved since his death. She changed their names from Markel, and now she has kept them apart from their father’s family. What message does that send? What message does it send that since learning definitively (if there was any doubt) of her mother and brother’s involvement three years ago, she has kept the boys in the middle of the criminal dysfunction that is her family, instead of setting boundaries and distancing herself to give the boys the emotionally safe life they deserve? Regardless of what she knew before the murder, her actions afterward make her an active participant in the family’s horrific efforts to wipe out any trace of their father from the boys’ lives.

Wendi still has time to fix this injustice of separating Dan’s parents from her kids, and help her kids survive and thrive in the longer-term. Ruth and Phil Markel have suffered enough at the hands of the Adelson family, and the boys are about to suffer more. It’s long past time to let the Markels have a relationship with their grandkids, and for the boys to reconnect with their father’s family. Time is running short for Wendi to preserve her relationship with her boys: once they find out what happened, the die will have been cast.

So what should happen when your mother and brother murder your ex? You try to make up for it, as best you can. Wendi Adelson can do better.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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Do the Markel grandparents have no legal standing for any visitation rights? Especially since the father, their son, had custody rights, and they are the closest next of kin to inherit those rights?

Posted by: Hannah Sokol | Sep 18, 2019 8:18:29 AM

How about incriminating them. It's hard to believe that in the last four years she has not been a witness to an admission or other evidence of their guilt. Recall in her police interview on the day of the murder she was on the phone and said to her mother "you'll tell Charlie so I don't have to." There is no brother-sister, mother-daughter privilege. If she knows something, it is her legal and moral duty to speak.

Posted by: JM | Sep 18, 2019 6:18:18 AM