|Born||Charles Jay Adelson|
October 27, 1976
|🏡 Residence||Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.|
Charles "Charlie" Adelson (born October 27, 1976) is a periodontist, and brother of Wendi Adelson, the ex-wife of murdered law professor Dan Markel.
To date, Luis Rivera, Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua have been arrested in connection with the murder. Rivera has pled guilty, and the other two have not yet been tried.
The Adelsons deny any involvement; according to a statement issued by their lawyers, "none of the Adelsons — Wendi, her brother Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey — had anything to do with Dan [Markel]'s murder."
In September 2016, when only Rivera and Garcia were in custody, State Attorney Willie Meggs dismissed probable-cause affidavits drafted by the police as "speculation" and he refused to issue warrants for the arrest of Charles Adelson and Katherine Magbanua. Shortly after Meggs’ decision, Luis Rivera pled guilty to his part in the murder and Magbanua was arrested. Rivera stated that Garcia recruited Rivera to the murder, and that Magbanua served as a go-between; he described the motivation for the killing as "Because the lady wants her two kids back. She wants full custody of the kids... We're going to kill this guy for the kids."
Early life and education
Charles Jay Adelson was born and raised in Florida, one of three children of Harvey Adelson and Donna Adelson. Harvey is a cosmetic dentist and founder of the Adelson Institute for Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry. Donna Adelson works in the family business as Patient Coordinator for the Adelson Institute.
Charles Adelson attended the University of Central Florida, receiving a bachelor's degree in Micro and Molecular Biology in 1999, and Nova Southeastern University, from which he received a degree in Dentistry (a D.M.D.) in 2003.
A periodontist, Adelson works in the family dentistry business at the Adelson Institute. The Adelson Institute is a successful dental clinic co-owned by Charles Adelson and his father Harvey. Adelson also owns several commercial properties throughout South Florida, and is listed as an independent director at Life Clips, Inc. Adelson has participated in several medical missions sponsored by the Women of Hope, providing dental care to orphan children in Jamaica.
Adelson is unmarried, and has been described as a "playboy."
Dan Markel's murder
Adelson’s younger sister Wendi Adelson married Dan Markel in February 2006. They had two sons, one born in 2009 and one in 2010. The couple separated in 2012, and their divorce became final in 2013. The separation and divorce were acrimonious. According to Markel's court filings, the separation came as a surprise. While Markel was away on a short business trip, Wendi, with the assistance of her parents, removed most of the couple’s possessions, as well as the children, from the family home, leaving divorce paperwork on what had been the couple’s shared bed. A marital settlement reached in July 2013 gave Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel shared 50/50 custody of the children, and Markel won an order prohibiting her from moving to Miami with them. After the settlement, Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel continued to fight in court about finances, parenting arrangements and the disposition of assets. Markel filed a motion in 2014 that would have prohibited his mother-in-law Donna Adelson from being alone and unsupervised with the children due to alleged disparaging remarks about their father.
Markel was shot at his home in Tallahassee, Florida shortly before 11 a.m. on July 18, 2014, and died early the next day. He was talking on the phone as he pulled into his garage, and said that he saw someone in his driveway. The Tallahassee Police Department announced that Markel was the "intended victim" and termed his death a murder. On August 1, 2014, the Associated Press reported that emergency medical response was delayed because a dispatcher erroneously classified the call as less serious than it was.
Dan Markel murder investigation
A $25,000 CrimeStoppers reward was initially offered. A separate, independently funded $100,000 award was offered in July 2015, the one-year anniversary of the murder. At that time, the Tallahassee Police Department called a press conference and showed photographs of a Silva-Mica Toyota Prius, asking the public for help in locating the vehicle. The police also released un-redacted police reports from the crime scene in February 2016, but these contained no new information regarding the crime, only the names of police officers who visited the crime scene.
On May 26, 2016, nearly two years after the murder, a suspect, Sigfredo Garcia, 34, of Miami Beach, was arrested for first-degree murder based on a warrant issued by a Leon County judge. Tallahassee police would not release further details, but told reporters that the killing was being investigated as a murder for hire and sources said that they expected more arrests in the case. A few days later, a judge in Leon County Court ordered the probable cause affidavit behind the arrest unsealed. The affidavit revealed investigators' belief that Garcia and Luis Rivera, 33, had traveled from the Miami area in a rented Toyota Prius, staying in motels the nights of July 16 and 17, 2014, to commit the crime. Evidence included cellular phone, banking and SunPass electronic toll collection records; security camera footage from buildings and city buses along the streets Markel and the alleged killers had driven, and the testimony of an unnamed informant along with a nearby witness. The morning of the killing, they had trailed Markel as he ran errands and went to the gym, until they could shoot him at his home. Documentation later filed with the court indicated an earlier trip by Rivera and Garcia's first trip to Tallahassee on June 4–6, 2014, several weeks before the murder, in what investigators termed a botched first attempt to kill Markel. The media later released videos of the Toyota Prius stalking Markel throughout Tallahassee on July 18, 2014. as well as pictures of the defendants in a Prius during the relevant times.
The affidavit further outlined investigators' theory that Markel's death was a contract killing, since neither of the accused knew Markel, and no property was taken. The motive was believed to be the desire of the family of Wendi Adelson to allow her to relocate to the Miami area with the children.
Documents released in September 2016 indicated that the Tallahassee Police Department viewed Charles Adelson and his mother Donna Adelson as implicated in the killing. According to police, after the killing, Katherine Magbanua (the mother of suspected killer Garcia's children, as well as a former girlfriend of Charlie Adelson) received handwritten paychecks from the Adelson family's dentistry practice signed by Donna Adelson; at the same time, suspected killers Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera purchased several cars and motorcycles. Police claimed payments to Magbanua totalled more than $56,000 and that "Magbanua is supported financially by Charlie Adelson and has received numerous benefits from the Adelsons since Markel’s murder." Prosecutors also alleged that Charlie Adelson partially paid for Katherine Magbanua's breast enhancement surgery. Police also said that in September 2015, Katherine Magbanua "started using" a Lexus "registered to Harvey Adelson and previously used by Charlie Adelson."
Tapes from Wendi Adelson's interview with the police on the day of the murder showed that Charles Adelson had joked about hiring a hitman to kill Markel. In the interview, Wendi stated that she had spoken with her brother on the morning of the murder and that "He knew Danny treated me badly and it was always his joke, he said, 'I looked into hiring a hitman and it was cheaper to get you this TV so I got you this TV,'" adding "He would never. I told that to the repair guy 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." The tapes also show Wendi Adelson speaking to her mother Donna Adelson on the phone; afterward she remarked to a victim's advocate, "My parents sounded really surprised, so that’s at least a relief... My parents would be angry but they're not capable of this. Thank God. I really couldn't handle that right now."
According to Tallahassee police, Jeffrey Lacasse, a professor at Florida State University who dated Wendi Adelson following her divorce from Markel, expressed to police his belief that Wendi may be indirectly responsible for the murder of Markel. In his interview with police, Lacasse said the discussions between Wendi Adelson and Charlie Adelson about hiring someone to murder Markel were not intended as a joke. He said, "She [Wendi Adelson] told me that Charlie had looked into having Danny killed in the summer of 2013. She meant it, dead serious. ... She said it in a dead serious, chilling, uncomfortable way. ... In the moment, my stomach flipped. I was like, ‘Whoa.’" Documents released by prosecutors and the police show that investigators suspect the involvement of Charles Adelson, and mother Donna Adelson in the apparent murder-for-hire of Markel; however, investigators did not indicate any suspicion about Wendi Adelson's involvement. The Adelsons deny involvement in the murder by any family member; according to a statement issued by their lawyers, "none of the Adelsons — Wendi, her brother Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey — had anything to do with Dan [Markel]'s murder."
A grand jury in Leon County indicted Garcia and Rivera on charges of first-degree murder in connection with Markel's killing on June 17, 2016. Rivera had already been jailed on unrelated federal charges since 2014; he had pleaded guilty in federal court in Fort Lauderdale to racketeering conspiracy arising from his leadership of the North Miami group of the Latin Kings gang, was sentenced to more than 12 ½ years' imprisonment, and is currently incarcerated at the Coleman federal prison in central Florida. Both men initially pleaded not guilty, and prosecutors sought the death penalty for the two.
Katherine Magbanua was arrested on October 1, 2016 in Broward County and charged with first degree murder in connection with the case. Charlie Adelson's attorney David Oscar Markus denounced the arrest, saying, "It's sad that the police have arrested Katie when just last week the prosecution said there was no basis to proceed. They are trying to pressure a single mom who has no priors by threatening to make her little kids orphans. That's not how our criminal justice system is supposed to work."
Several days later, Rivera reached a plea bargain and agreed to change his plea to guilty of second-degree murder. Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs said that as part of his plea deal, Luis Rivera will testify against Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia. Charlie Adelson's attorney denounced the plea bargain as a "deal with the devil." According to reports of Rivera's police interview released to the media, Rivera confirmed Katherine Magbanua's role as go-between, saying “Katie is the woman in the middle doing everything." Rivera also stated that when Garcia recruited him for the murder, he described the motivation for the killing as "Because the lady wants her two kids back. She wants full custody of the kids... We're going to kill this guy for the kids."
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Their divorce was acrimonious, punctuated by dozens of court filings, hearings and a protracted custody battle over their two boys. Markel described the day Wendi Adelson left him as his "Pearl Harbor," friends told ABC News. Markel told friends that, without warning, Wendi had packed up the house and the children and left while he was away on a business trip.
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