Donna Sue Adelson, aged 73, the mother of a Florida dentist convicted in a murder-for-hire case related to a custody dispute, was apprehended on Monday night in connection with the 2014 murder. Court and jail records indicate that she is being held in a Miami jail on suspicion of murder and other charges. This arrest followed her attempt to book airline tickets to Vietnam with her husband on November 13, a country lacking an extradition treaty with the U.S., as detailed in jail records and an arrest warrant obtained by NBC News.
Her son, Charles Adelson, was recently convicted on November 6 for the 2014 murder of his former brother-in-law, Florida State University law professor Dan Markel. Subsequent to Charles Adelson’s conviction, recorded phone calls revealed Donna Adelson discussing plans to potentially leave the country with her son. The arrest warrant quotes her stating that she is “getting things in order, creating trusts, and making sure her grandchildren are taken care of,” while also mentioning plans for both suicide and fleeing to a non-extradition country. The warrant emphasizes Donna Sue Adelson’s significant financial resources to facilitate such actions.
Donna Adelson and her husband were apprehended at Miami International Airport, and while the husband was not arrested, Donna Adelson faces charges including first-degree murder, solicitation, and conspiracy. The warrant alleges that the Adelsons had the means to fund Markel’s murder and provide ongoing compensation to Katherine Magbanua, an ex-girlfriend of Charles Adelson convicted of first-degree murder in the same case.
Prosecutors contended that Magbanua hired Sigfredo Garcia to carry out the murder, with Garcia enlisting a childhood friend. The friend, in exchange for testifying against Garcia and Magbanua, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
The murder plot was rooted in a custody dispute between Markel and his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, Donna Adelson’s daughter, and Charles Adelson’s sister. The dispute arose when Wendi Adelson, following her divorce, sought to move with her children from Tallahassee to South Florida, a move opposed by a court ruling. The warrant outlines Donna Adelson’s persistent efforts to persuade Wendi to coerce Markel into relocating, even suggesting a financial incentive of $1 million, divided among family members, and proposing threats related to the children’s religious upbringing.
You can also read: Chicago Family Carjacked at Gunpoint in Own Driveway
During a court appearance on Tuesday, Donna Adelson remained silent as the charges were read. She is expected to be extradited to Leon County by the end of the month. As of now, no comment has been issued by Donna Adelson’s legal representation.