In 'bombshell development,' ex-mother-in-law of slain law prof arrested at airport
Charlie Adelson is cross-examined by Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman during his trial Nov. 3 in Tallahassee, Florida, for the murder of Dan Markel, a Florida State University College of Law professor. Photo by Alicia Devine/The Tallahassee Democrat via the Associated Press.
The former mother-in-law of slain law professor Dan Markel was arrested for his murder Monday night while she was at the Miami International Airport.
The Tallahassee Democrat called the arrest of Donna Adelson, 73, a “bombshell development.” Her son, Florida dentist Charlie Adelson, was convicted Nov. 6 on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation of murder and first-degree murder in Markel’s killing.
Donna Adelson was arrested on the same charges. She and her husband were at the airport after purchasing one-way tickets to Vietnam, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Jack Campbell, a state attorney for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County, Florida, told the Tallahassee Democrat that there was enough evidence to charge Donna Adelson, but her arrival at the airport “forced our hand.”
Markel, a Florida State University College of Law professor, was killed in July 2014. Charlie Adelson was convicted for hiring hit men to kill Markel, so Markel’s ex-wife, Charlie Adelson’s sister, could move with the children from Tallahassee, Florida, to the Miami area.
The hit men were Luis Rivera and Sigfredo Garcia. Rivera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2016 and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Garcia, the triggerman, was convicted in 2019 and sentenced to life in prison. Also convicted in 2022 and sentenced to life was Katherine Magbanua, who hired the hit men for Charlie Adelson. She had been romantically involved with Garcia and Charlie Adelson.
During Charlie Adelson’s trial, prosecutors introduced evidence about an FBI “bump” operation in which an undercover FBI agent posing as a blackmailer approached Donna Adelson. The agent gave Donna Adelson an article about the murder with “$5,000” written on it, along with a phone number.
Donna Adelson called Charlie Adelson afterward and said they had to talk about “some paperwork.” Charlie Adelson asked whether it involved himself or other people.
“Well, probably both of us,” Donna Adelson replied.