'Journey to justice': Donna Adelson's arrest is a 'major win' for the Markel family

by 24USATVNov. 15, 2023, midnight 19

The long "journey to justice" for Dan Markel and his family took a quick turn after Donna Adelson was unexpectedly stopped and arrested before boarding a one-way flight to Vietnam.

Donna Adelson and her husband, Harvey Adelson, were intercepted Monday night by multiple law enforcement agencies at the Miami International Airport.

"We were so delighted at the quick and effective response of the State Attorney and the FBI," said Dan Markel's mom, Ruth Markel in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat. "We really appreciate all the collaboration and the timely communication with our family."

Read Donna Adelson arrest warrant:Talk of fleeing, suicide and 'getting things in order'

Ruth Markel, who attended the trial with her husband, Phil, and daughter, Shelly, said that because of Marsy's Law, a constitutional amendment granting rights to crime victims, her family received an alert of the arrest prior to the public announcement.

Adelson, 73, of Miami, was taken into custody on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation in the 2014 plot to kill Markel. These are the same charges her son, Charlie Adelson, a Fort Lauderdale periodontist, was convicted of one week prior to her arrest.

According to court records, intercepted jail calls revealed that Adelson was calling to tell her son that "she was getting things in order, creating trusts and making sure her grandchildren are taken care of." She also discussed suicide and plans to flee to a non-extradition country.

Even if she hadn't tried to run, Jason Solomon, the founder of the Justice for Dan organization, said he thinks the State Attorney's Office would have gone after her in the near future.

"It's clear that, at a minimum, she and her son Charlie were responsible for this horrible murder, and they need to be held accountable," Solomon said.

The state has been "very methodical" with each arrest made in connection to the murder, he said. They've done a terrific job so far, and while he doesn't know if more members of the Adelson family will be arrested in the scheme, Solomon said he hopes so.

Solomon formed the advocacy group in the years following the murder to push the justice system to hold all involved parties accountable.

He said the case posed an important question: "Can people really get away with murder, and particularly, can people with money just pay people to do their dirty work and get off scot free?"

"Donna's arrest means that the answer is clearly no," Solomon said.

The case, which grew out of nasty divorce and child custody battle between Donna Adelson's daughter, Wendi Adelson, and her ex-husband, Markel, has captivated the attention of people from Tallahassee to South Florida and across the country. The latest arrest in the case generated a buzz among the community's watchful eyes.

"Unbelievable!" one Facebook user commented. "That was way faster than expected! I guess Charlie wasn’t lying when he was saying they’d be at the airport already if they thought they were going to be arrested!"

"This is sweet justice!" another person wrote.

"Wonderful news!" another Facebook user commented. "Justice for Dan, his parents & his boys!"

The community echoes Markel's sentiment that the swift arrest was "a major win."

The Markel family just started settling back into their homes and lives in Toronto, Canada, after being in Tallahassee for Charlie Adelson's nine-day trial, but they are prepared to pack up again and come back for Donna Adelson's future court proceedings, Ruth Markel said.

They have attended every hearing and trial connected to their son's murder, she said, because it's crucial to keeping her son's memory alive.

"He was an important part of our family, and we want to show ourselves and the public how dedicated we have to be to keep this story alive," she said.

Markel said she and her family appreciate all the continued support of the media and Tallahassee community.

"The trial life, which was characterized by waiting and uncertainty, is starting to show a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel," Markel said.

Chronicling every day of the Charlie Adelson trial:

The Tallahassee Democrat, which has covered the case closely since Markel's murder, had three journalists in the courtroom. Here is a collection of their coverage.
• Pre-trial: What we learned from jury selection
• Walkthrough of witnesses: Those making the case for, against Charlie Adelson
• Case primer: Everything to know about the murder-for-hire case
• Day 1 testimony: Wendi Adelson says she was surprised to learn Charlie knew Dan Markel's murderer all along
• Day 2: Charlie Adelson murder trial sees twists, turns as his sister and a hit man testify
• Day 3: Magbanua flips: Web of lies and phone records dominate Day 3 of Charlie Adelson trial
• Day 4: Enter the FBI: Surveillance, wiretaps and phone records dominate Day 4 of Adelson trial
• Day 5: Charlie Adelson announces he will take the stand amid bombshell wire taps
• Day 6: 'My life depends on it': Charlie Adelson testifies prosecutors 'wrong' about Markel murder
• Day 7: 'Extortion layaway' and the grilling of Charlie Adelson in Dan Markel murder-for-hire
• Day 8: Piecing together the Charlie Adelson 'puzzle': Case heads to jury after closing arguments
• Verdict: For Markels, Charlie Adelson guilty verdict a 'relief' after 'long and terrible ordeal'

Elena Barrera can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @elenabarreraaa.


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