Dan Markel's Parents Want Justice as Suspects Head to Trial in Murder-for-Hire Case

As Katherine Magbanua and Sigfredo Garcia head to trial in June, Dan Markel's parents are looking for answers.


This article has been updated. See below. 

It's been nearly five years since prominent law professor Dan Markel was shot to death in the driveway of his Florida home. Now, his parents are reliving the nightmare — and seeking justice — as the suspects in the murder-for-hire case head to trial.

In July 2014, Markel was shot twice in the head as he pulled into his garage at his Tallahassee home. Crime scene photos showed shattered glass next to his cellphone and glasses.

He was in the middle of a custody fight with his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, over their two young sons, investigators said. Adelson wanted to move to Coral Springs, over the objections of Markel, but a Florida judge ruled the kids had to stay put in Tallahassee.

Two suspects, who have pled not guilty, are going on trial in June in connection with Markel's murder. Katherine Magbanua allegedly enlisted the father of her children, Sigfredo Garcia, and another man, Luis Rivera, to pull off the shooting. Rivera entered into a plea deal with prosecutors and claims that Garcia is the person who shot Markel. Rivera pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to testify at the trial.

Prosecutors say Magbanua had dated Wendy Adelson's brother. According to a police affidavit, “investigators believe the motive for this murder stemmed from the desperate desire of the Adelson family to relocate Wendi and the children to” Coral Springs. No one in the Adelson family has been arrested or charged. They have denied any involvement in the murder and call the police's theory about a possible motive "fanciful fiction."  

"I'm looking for justice. I'm looking for answers," Phil Markel told Inside Edition.

"This is no accident," Ruth Markel said.

Phil and Ruth now live in Toronto and claim they have been banned for nearly three years from seeing their grandchildren.

"We haven't received any photos. We haven't received anything at all from the boys," Phil said.

They said they’ve made many attempts to communicated with their ex-daughter-in-law, but they claim she only responds to text messages. “It’s as minimal as it can be,” according to Ruth.

The grandparents said losing both their son and grandchildren at the same time has been difficult.

"Danny is not coming back, but to lose his two sons that meant so much to him and to us, of course, it's like rubbing salt in the wound," said Phil.

"We want them to know that we love them. And we will always love them," Ruth said.

Wendi Adelson said she has allowed countless visits between her children and the Markels until she heard one of them had communicated with authorities about placing the boys in foster care. She said this came as a “shock” to her and has never been provided “an adequate explanation for why such discussions took place.  As a result, she said, she took steps “that she believes is in the best interest of her children."


In connection with this report, Inside Edition received the following statement from Orin Snyder, the attorney for Ruth and Phil Markel:

“It is false and outrageous to suggest that the Markels ever tried to have their own grandsons put into foster care or otherwise removed from their mother’s custody. 

"In the fall of 2016, Ruth Markel was concerned that some members of the Adelson family might be arrested for Dan Markel’s murder while they were caring for her grandsons.  As a result, she contacted a Florida social services organization to ask about the process for ensuring the boys’ temporary well-being in case that emergency occurred.  Ms. Markel then provided contact information for that social services organization to the State Attorney’s Office.  That is all.  As a concerned and loving grandmother, who had already been witness to horrible violence against her family, that was obviously the right thing to do.
"Ms. Adelson knows this.  Yet she has still refused to let the Markels see or talk to their grandsons for years, depriving the boys of any relationship with their murdered father’s family and a vital connection to their own roots.”