Police Video Shows Woman Hearing About Shooting Death of Her Ex, an FSU Law Professor

"I’m scared for the kids," Wendi Adelson said in response.

ByABC News
August 26, 2016, 3:46 PM

— -- The ex-wife of slain Florida State University law professor Dan Markel told Tallahassee police on the day of the shooting that she was in fear and worried that whoever shot Markel could be coming for her children next.

“I’m scared. I don’t know why this would happen,” Wendi Adelson told an investigator during a 2014 videotaped interview that spanned more than five hours.

“It really scares me because, I mean, if there’s someone out there that’s willing to do this to him. … I’m scared for the kids.

ABC News obtained a copy of the police videotape this week after a public records request.

Markel was killed on the morning of July 18, 2014. A prominent professor with a national reputation for provocative legal scholarship, he was shot in the head just as he pulled his car into the garage of his Tallahassee home. He died hours later in a local hospital.

Tallahassee police officers located Adelson early that afternoon at a local restaurant, where she was having lunch with friends, and drove her to the police station without explaining the details of the shooting.

The videotape of her police interview opens with her sitting alone in a barren, white-walled room. When an investigator enters, she tells him a friend just called to tell her there had been a shooting on the block where Markel lived.

“That’s what this is about,” the officer tells her as she begins to break down in tears. “There was a shooting at your home, or your ex-husband’s home. [He] has been taken to the hospital. He’s not going to survive.”

“Oh, my God,” Adelson says, sobbing throughout. “What happened. …I just don’t understand? How could this happen?”

PHOTO: Daniel Markel
Daniel Markel

Arrest Made 2 Years After Slaying

Earlier this year, Tallahassee Police arrested Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, two South Florida men with extensive criminal histories, and charged them in Markel’s killing. They were indicted by a grand jury and are facing the death penalty, if convicted. Both have entered not guilty pleas. They are scheduled for trial in November.

In a probable cause affidavit, police allege that Garcia and Rivera were “enlisted to commit this egregious act” and that police believe the motive for the killing “stemmed from the desperate desire of the Adelson family to relocate Wendi and the children to South Florida, along with the pending court hearing that might have impacted their access to the grandchildren.”

PHOTO: Luis Rivera
Luis Rivera
PHOTO: Sigfredo Garcia
Sigfredo Garcia

Contentious Divorce

Markel and Adelson, who at the time was also an FSU law professor, had been through a bitter divorce that was finalized in 2013. Prior to the settlement, Markel had successfully fought her attempt to move with their two young sons to south Florida for a new job and to be closer to her family.

Adelson’s parents and her brother, Charlie, run a successful dentistry practice in Broward County.

After Adelson was ordered by the court to remain in Tallahassee, she and Markel continued to spar over financial issues and his contention that she had not been abiding by the terms of their parenting agreements. In the months just prior to his slaying, Markel alleged that Adelson’s mother was making disparaging remarks about him in front of his sons.

His motion seeking to limit his mother-in-law’s unsupervised interaction with the children was pending before the court at the time of his death.

Court documents made public in June linked Garcia, one of the alleged hit men, to Charlie Adelson through Adelson’s former girlfriend, who was also the mother of Garcia’s children. The arrest affidavit alleges that Charlie Adelson “reportedly did not like Markel and did not get along with him.”

No one in the Adelson family has been charged in connection with Markel’s killing.

Lawyers for the Adelsons, in a joint statement issued earlier this month, stated that “none of the Adelsons – Wendi, her brother, Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey – had anything to do with Dan’s murder.”

"[Investgators] have spent the past two years reviewing every shred of evidence out there -- every phone record, financial record, text message, email, internet search, everything,” the statement says. “We understand why the government has put the Adelson family through this type of severe scrutiny. But nothing has turned up that supports this fanciful fiction that the Adelsons were involved.”

When asked in her videotaped interview whether she thought someone would kill Markel for her benefit without asking her, Wendi Adelson said, “No.”

But she acknowledged being “scared someone maybe did this - not because they hate Danny but because they thought this was good somehow.”

Charlie Adelson Allegedly Jokes About Hiring a Hit Man

Adelson then recalled an eyebrow-raising phone conversation with her brother Charlie earlier that day, as they were discussing what to do about a television he bought her that had broken down.

“And I was talking to him about whether it made sense to pay to fix it or I should get a new one,” she said. “And it was always his joke that, like, he knew that Danny treated me badly, and it was always his joke, he said, I looked into hiring a hit man but it was cheaper to get you this TV.”

“[H]e’s my big brother, and he’s been taking care of me since I was little,” she continued. “But he would never – and I told that to the repair guy that this morning. He asked me how much it cost, and I said I didn’t know because it was a gift because my brother said it was cheaper than a hit-man. It was my divorce present. Such a horrible thing to say. I’m so, so sorry.”

“But even my family who felt like I had been mistreated would never do something like this,” Adelson said. “Never.”

Asked whether she would have ever asked someone to kill her former husband, she replied: “Not in a million years.”