The 73-year-old matriarch of the Adelson family, who prosecutors have repeatedly said “hated” her former son-in-law Dan Markel, was arrested in Miami on Monday night, just a week after her dentist son Charlie Adelson was found guilty of the murder plot July 18, 2014, in which the Florida State University law professor died in a contentious custody dispute.
Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Donna Sue Adelson was booked into jail on an out-of-county felony warrant last night at 10:08 p.m. It’s not clear from the records what county it is or what charges are being filed, but the arrestee’s 5-foot-10, 110-pound son was charged seven days ago in Leon County with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and incitement to murder.
These convictions made Charlie Adelson, 47, the fourth person convicted of Dan Markel’s murder, along with Latin Kings leader Luis Rivera, gunman Sigfredo “Tuto” Garcia and Katherine Magbanua, Charlie’s ex-girlfriend.
In Charlie Adelson’s trial, prosecutors managed to convince jurors that the defendant’s detailed story about his role as a blackmail victim made no sense. What makes more sense, prosecutors said, is that Donna Adelson was eager for her two grandchildren to move from Tallahassee to Miami, but the fallout from her daughter Wendi Adelson’s divorce from Markel jeopardized that goal.
Donna’s emails with Wendi revealed that she “hated” Markel and that she was “desperately searching for a way” to overcome the murdered law professor’s “stubborn” opposition to his sons’ relocation to South Florida.
After the divorce was finalized, the heated custody battle continued in court, and Dan Markel had asked a judge to issue an order banning Donna Adelson from unsupervised contact with her grandchildren. Prosecutors noted that the motion was pending at the time of the murder and that Markel’s death eliminated the Adelson family’s “problem.”
About 48 hours after Markel was shot in his garage, where Rivera and Garcia had followed him, the Adelsons got their wish. Both Wendi and the two boys moved into an apartment within walking distance of the Adelson family home, prosecutors said.
Within a year, Wendi Adelson legally changed her sons’ last name from Markel to Adelson.
Charlie Adelson testified in court that the custody battle was “contentious” but claimed he “wasn’t really involved in the divorce proceedings and day-to-day matters.” However, his mother and Wendi were.
“I definitely heard stories, most of them coming from my mother when I was driving to work or home in the morning,” Adelson testified, estimating that 20 percent of what he heard came from Wendi and 80 percent that, what he learned came from his mother’s comments.
Wendi was “extremely stressed, very stressed” and Donna was “upset because my sister was stressed,” Adelson explained.
“It was almost like a game of telephone, like my sister was venting to my mom and my mom was venting to me,” he said.
Speaking of telephone games: Listening to conversations that Charlie had with his mother also played a role in the trial.
Investigators conduct “The Bump,” an undercover operation noticed there was a pattern of phone calls Before and around the time of the murder, calls were “always” made in this order: Donna Adelson to Charlie Adelson, Katherine Magbanua, and Sigfredo Garcia, except that these calls were returned in reverse order.
A wiretap of a conversation Donna Adelson had with Charlie Adelson was “important paperwork” served on her by a special agent in 2016. Donna’s call prompted Charlie to call Katherine Magbanua, and the former couple had a tense phone call filled with profanity.
An undercover agent recorded video and audio of the moment he handed papers to Donna Adelson outside her condo. The agent told her that he was the brother of an imprisoned man (Luis Rivera) who had helped the Adelson family with their “problem up north.” He wanted Donna to help his “brother” just as the family had taken care of Tuto Garcia and Katherine Magbanua.
A long email Donna Adelson sent to her daughter Wendi in July 2013 has long been an arrow in prosecutors’ quivers.
In it, she told her daughter, “It’s time to take control of your life and not let Jibbers think he’s just ‘gained’ something by letting you stay in Tallahassee, eight hours from your only family.” away, and will lose everything.” Be a job that gives you and your children advantages that they could never otherwise enjoy.”
“Let’s show this [expletive] which will make him absolutely miserable,” the email continued. “You know his vulnerabilities; Money, religion, control.”
“You have 5 weeks until your court date“, she wrote and underlined this text. “I know you have a stovetop that is keeping you very busy. However, the rest of your lifeAnd as a result, Dad’s and yes, even Charlie’s will will be influenced by how well you can perform/act before July 31st.”
If you thought there was any confusion about what is meant by “carry out/act”, this will be clarified in the next few sentences.
“You can be a good actress if you want to. I’ve seen you in action. You have to give the performance of your life! Jibbers has not yet beaten the Adelson family,” Donna Adelson wrote.
In Charlie Adelson’s trial, prosecutors focused on a secretly recorded remark the defendant made to Katherine Magbanua at the Dolce Vita restaurant.
DOLCE VITA RECORDING – Charlie: “If they had any evidence, we would have already gone to the airport.” This recording is considered the decisive proof of this #CharlieAdelson. Adelson met Katherine Magbanua at the Dolce Vita restaurant. Agents sat at a nearby table recording.… pic.twitter.com/JOVoD1bTYk
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) October 26, 2023
“If they had evidence, we would have already gone to the airport,” he said.
In a wild twist, it was Donna Adelson Reportedly arrested at Miami International Airport after she and her husband allegedly bought one-way tickets to Vietnam, on a flight with a stopover in Dubai.
According to prosecutor Jack Campbell, Donna Adelson was arrested last night at the Miami airport on charges of murder, conspiracy and solicitation. She and her husband Harvey had bought one-way tickets to Vietnam with a stopover in Dubai.
— Jeffrey Burlew (@JeffBurlew) November 14, 2023
Authorities reportedly had the evidence they needed to charge Donna Adelson, but they sought an arrest knowing her extradition from Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates) or Vietnam would be “complicated and lengthy.” neither have bilateral extradition treaties with the United States.
“We have started talking to some of our law enforcement partners about the complexities of trying to bring someone back from Dubai or Vietnam. And that could be a very complicated and lengthy process. That’s why we had to make a decision quickly.” 2/2
— Jeffrey Burlew (@JeffBurlew) November 14, 2023
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