Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson’s marriage falls apart in Florida: Part 1

The couple, both of whom were lawyers, met through an online dating service. They had two children and built a life together in Tallahassee before their marriage fell apart.
9:04 | 10/12/19

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson’s marriage falls apart in Florida: Part 1
happy ever afters, the lucky ones, the couples who grow more inseparable with age. Not even close. It's a story about the opposite. A bad marriage, a worse break-up, a brutal divorce. I'm Matthew Shaer. And I'm a journalist. I've been a writer for the past, about 11 years. I'd never done a podcast before. She said it had something to do with the amount of money it would cost to have someone killed. Are you saying you think maybe one of your friends would have done something like this? Who would do this? We had well over 10 million downloads so it had well surpassed anything we thought could happen in terms of popularity. This is a case about how our highest dreams, our highest moments in our lives, like marriage and children, can very quickly become tragic. You know, the fact that this is a murder done in, in broad daylight and by people who didn't seem to care if they were seen. It was just a very bold homicide. The mysterious killing of a prominent law professor at Florida state university. Police are convinced it's a murder case but so far there are no good leads. Matt Gutman has the story. He was found dead in his and this quickly becomes one of the most sensational crimes in Tallahassee history. I knew this was an enormous story and I pitched it to ABC news and they assigned me to do it. This morning police are scrambling to unravel the riddle of who killed professor Dan Markel. Dan Markel had grown up in a relatively affluent part of Toronto. Dan was the epitome of Dennis the menace. So he was blond, he was cute, and he was rambunctious and wild. He had a very serious commitment to his jewish heritage. Danny was very involved in the rituals of judaism. He also like the intellectual parts of it. Torah. Talmud. He liked the argumentative side of it. He was extremely smart. His goal was to go to Harvard. Harvard was the only school in his mind he was going to go to. There's a word in yiddish, called Mensch, he would be a Mensch, great character and great personality. He was my best friend. He ended up with a degree from law school. After graduating from law school he was working for a boutique law firm in Washington, D.C., and he was on the short track for partnership. While Dan is still in D.C. He meets a woman named Wendi he meets her on jdate. Sweetie, have you met any nice boys in your building yet? Are they jewish? I have no idea. All we are asking for is grandchildren. Wendi was just fun and full of joy. She is a lovely person who has boundless enthusiasm and energy and sense of humor. She was extremely charismatic, extremely outgoing, goofy to a certain extent. She'd been on "The weakest link," the game show. Wendi, have you always wanted to work at a think tank. Is that what you've always wanted to do with your life? When I was little, I wanted to be a giraffe. Wendi Adelson had grown up in the Miami area. Her dad Harvey was a dentist. And her mom Donna had worked as a teacher initially and then came to the dental practice. She had two older brothers, rob and Charlie. And Charlie would eventually become a dentist. Rob would become a doctor. I think things happened fairly quickly for them. They were long distance. He was in D.C. At that time and she was in Florida, so there were some great weekend trips. There was a really strong connection. And she was really drawn to him. He decided to go teach and me like most fathers would say, why don't you practice law for ten years, put a chunk in the bank and then go teach. But he wouldn't hear from that. Eventually he gets an offer from Tallahassee, from Florida state university, to come be a law professor. He says yes. And the law school had offered Wendi a teaching position, too, on a contract basis. He and Wendi then get engaged. To me, it seemed like a fairly conventional jewish wedding. Lots of rabbis came and there was dancing and smiling. She was a happy bride. Although the markels and the adelsons were both paying for the wedding, it was Wendi's parents who'd hired the caterer. Dan had wanted the wedding to be strictly kosher but -- When he showed up to his own wedding, he learned that actually the wedding was not gonna be kosher. And I think that was a very devastating moment for him. And it would set the table for things that developed later on and in fact played a part in that divide between the in-laws and Daniel Markel. After the wedding, Dan and Wendi returned to Tallahassee. The identity of Tallahassee is completely tied to FSU. Three national championships. It's a very big deal. Whether it's football or it's the education system, the two are one. It wasn't Miami. It wasn't where Wendi had come from. It has sort of a sleepy southern sensibility to it. It has more feeling of south Georgia or Alabama than it does Miami beach for sure. They have two boys. The boys are separated by less than two years. He loved the boys. They were his world. And everything revolved around them. He was obsessed with his kids. Our second speaker is Dan Markel. Greetings, everybody. Let me just sort of give you a few of the bullet points of the argument. I am not sure there's a better known law professor. Dan Markel was known by everybody. At some basic level, he liked to argue and he liked to make sure people understood his arguments. So the paper is about the tissue connecting democratic citizenship with retributive justice and the argument is that contrary to some of the criminal leading law theorists like Michael Moore or -- He could needle people. He could poke and prod. And he enjoyed it, but were there people who didn't like it? Of course. Wendi, meanwhile, was moving in a very different direction. She'd had enough of living in a city she hated. Tallahassee is a long way from Miami. That's where she'd grown up, that's where she wanted to be. Wendi also had aspirations of being a great lawyer but living with Dan she felt like she wasn't treated as his equal. Some of the people who were close to her say that Dan's hectic work schedule and frenetic lifestyle really put her career in the backseat. I thought I could cheat the system and marry a man I lacked passionate love for because, hey, didn't that die anyway during marriage? The only time you're able to hear Wendy articulate how she felt about the marriage is in a podcast she would later put together in a writing class. And when you listen to it, it sounds almost as if she's in a therapy session. Our marriage dissolved after the children arrived as the loneliness of being married to somebody who did not view me as an equal crept in. Wendi also started to work on a novel. It was called "This is our story." Major parts of the novel appeared to be pretty nakedly autobiographical. One of her characters was a woman who fell out of love and she chronicles this woman's journey. "We built love like a house of cards, no support, pulled away from our support systems, we just couldn't make it work for each other." Wendi spends months working on this book and Dan doesn't not a word. That is obviously and understandably hurtful to Wendi. I see Dan in New York and he's telling me that he thinks his marriage is unwinding. She seems disengaged, fairly depressed. She had a plan. She was going to book moving trucks, fill out divorce papers, and then she was going to take her two boys and get the hell out of Tallahassee. He came home to an empty house. There was basically nothing there but his marital bed with divorce papers on it. Everything else had been removed including his children. So this was quite stunning. And it was a pretty bad sign of

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"9:04","description":"The couple, both of whom were lawyers, met through an online dating service. They had two children and built a life together in Tallahassee before their marriage fell apart.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/2020","id":"66223093","title":"Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson’s marriage falls apart in Florida: Part 1","url":"/2020/video/dan-markel-wendi-adelsons-marriage-falls-florida-part-66223093"}