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Slaying of FSU Law professor is a mystery

Daniel Markel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Detectives say Florida State University law school professor Daniel Markel was shot in the head - but won't say whether he was shot from the front or back. They say he was gunned down at his home in broad daylight - but won't say if he was found inside the house or outside. They released a photo of a vehicle of interest, but wouldn't confirm exactly where the car was seen or even the make and model.

But they have made one detail perfectly clear: Whoever did it wanted Markel dead.

Last Friday's shooting of the popular lawyer has stunned friends, colleagues and residents of his well-to-do community in Florida's state capital, who demanded to know whether Markel had surprised an armed burglar or robber. No, Police Chief Michael DeLeo said - this was a premeditated murder.

Tallahassee police spokesman David Northway released photos of a vehicle of interest Wednesday and asked for anyone with surveillance in the area to contact police. The car appears to be a silver or light green Toyota Prius, though police will not confirm that.

CrimeStoppers has increased a reward for information leading to an arrest from $1,000 to $3,000.

Markel, 41, was born in Toronto, was the father of two boys and a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School. He practiced white-collar criminal defense and civil litigation before joining the Florida State law school as a faculty member in 2005. He was tenured in 2010.

Bob Jarvis, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, said there are numerous reasons police withhold crime details from the public, even when seeking tips. Prosecutors worry about affecting the jury pool, and police are always concerned with false confessions and copycat criminals, he said.

"It's a way to test anybody who's either making a confession, who's trying to pin the blame on somebody else," Jarvis said. "It's a truth-telling test.

"You don't want confusion. If there's something unique about the killer or the killer's M.O., you'd like to keep that under wraps."

Markel finalized a contentious divorce from his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, in 2013. The two had equally split custody of sons Benjamin and Lincoln, but they had follow-up litigation over money settlements. At one point, Adelson, who also teaches law at Florida State, hoped to move back to her hometown in South Florida.

"She's a basket case, she's totally, totally shocked over what happened," said Adelson's lawyer, Jimmy Judkins. "Gone from having children with two parents to children with one parent with no warning.

"She's scared to death for her children. She's scared to death for herself."

Judkins said Adelson has cooperated with police and has not been asked remain in the area.

Tamara Demko met Markel at Harvard Law School, and the two had been friends ever since. She saw him regularly in Tallahassee and created a web page for the Dan Markel Memorial fund to raise money for his sons. The site collected more than $18,000 in the first day.

Demko sobbed as she remembered the way he gave everyone nicknames and how he doted on his sons. She described his love for academia and said he was devoted to his Jewish faith.

"My heart is just shattered," Demko said. "I just don't know what I'm going to do without him in my life. He's been a part of it for so long."

The family has also asked for donations to go to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada, Canadian Magen David Adom, the Shomrei Torah Synagogue or Harvard Hillel.

"He took joy in life and his friends," Demko said. "He loved sharing his life with all the people that he met along the way."

David Wilkins has been a Harvard Law School professor since 1986 and remained in contact with Markel over the years. Markel's death has been an ongoing topic in the law community - where he was well-known among other scholars for his writings in blogs and scholarly publications, several focused on crime and punishment.

"He loved people as much as he loved ideas," Wilkins said. "He loved talking about ideas to people. I think that's what drew a lot of people to him."

Join the discussion

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jerryb182 July 24 2014 at 7:35 PM

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1 reply
LMetz11822 jerryb182 July 25 2014 at 9:21 AM

I agree, but I don't have that many problems with AOL stories. The Huffington Post is a lot worse. When you click on one of HPs stories they have so much crap to download that the page either freezes or it takes awhile. In most cases I just pass on HP stories.

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keslb July 24 2014 at 6:49 PM

If it was pre-meditated as they say the ex-wife has to be number one suspect. Of course she apparently is a lawyer too. Im guessing she would have definitely planned it out well so she would not be a suspect. But recently divorced with kids and money arguements leads me to think it has to be the ex-wife. I mean he was shot at home. If it were an irate student would it not have happened in his office or somewhere on campus?? Pre-meditated suggests ongoing dispute also--again ex-wife !

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6 replies
Ed July 24 2014 at 7:07 PM

Any bets on gay lover?

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7 replies
dccb3 July 24 2014 at 5:48 PM

"Whoever did it wanted Markel dead." doh...you think? Ladies and gentlemen...the dumbing down of America.

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2 replies
sept917 dccb3 July 24 2014 at 9:12 PM

The point being made was that it was NOT a random shooting, but an intentional murder, a hit.

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1 reply
mark and sheri sept917 July 25 2014 at 2:14 AM

If you use a gun, it is generally understood you want the person DEAD unless you drive them to the hospital.

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M dccb3 July 26 2014 at 1:14 AM

Seriously? You don't know what they mean by that? As sept917, it meant intentional, not random, not robbery/murder. Premeditated. Whether anyone who shoots a gun at someone wants them dead or not isn't the point. The point is what was meant by that particular phrase. I'm sure they didn't think they needed to spell it out for children.

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quincy_maxwell July 24 2014 at 7:33 PM

They're asking for help but won't tell you anything or give you any details about the car? What do they need help with then? Locating his house?

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kitejkoch July 24 2014 at 6:46 PM

I say good riddance! One less lawyer!

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6 replies
NICKIE'S PLACE July 25 2014 at 9:52 AM

I do not understand why a fund is set up for the two children. Parents being lawyers and professors certainly had enough money stashed away.
it's not they are refugees from Darfur.

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2 replies
mspat1001 NICKIE'S PLACE July 25 2014 at 10:59 AM

SS is immediate for the 2 boys, mom a professor, dad had money why ask the public for money. Kind of gross.

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proteus12544 NICKIE'S PLACE July 26 2014 at 2:30 AM

The way I read it, they are simply saying to those who are looking to send donations should send them to the listed charities. I did not see anywhere that said they were asking for money for the children. That said, I would rather see the money go to children here rather than sending more money to darfur where it lines the pockets of criminals and never reaches those in need.

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attyclientpriv July 24 2014 at 8:46 PM

Maybe the professor was in a relationship with a student girl and that girl managed to leak the beans about sleeping with him to someone who really liked her. It's time to see who the professor was Ban_ _ _ _.

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1 reply
daglaashoppa attyclientpriv July 25 2014 at 10:25 AM

Maybe he went to school with the Pres and knew too much.

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2 replies
jtdancernh daglaashoppa July 25 2014 at 4:01 PM

Whether or not he went to school with the Pres, if he "knew too much," he already has one-up on you.

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fullsrvlaw daglaashoppa July 25 2014 at 6:01 PM

You, are truly a moron.

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Bob July 25 2014 at 6:25 AM

Harvard law professors are wealthy people, why was it necessary to raise $18,000 for his sons with a memorial fund?

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1 reply
thorrsman Bob July 25 2014 at 6:30 AM

Florida State University law school professor Daniel Markel

Why do you think he taught at Harvard, when the article clearly states that he was a professor at Florida State University?

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Rhody July 25 2014 at 9:38 AM

First of all we are probably going to see the ex wife on the show Snapped in a few years. Secondly, why are they asking setting up memorial funds and asking for donations. He was a professor, I'm sure he has some nice life insurance. And the ex wife (mother of his kids) is a professor as well. I'm sure she makes a real nice salary. Why ask the public for money? I'm sick of that crap!

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