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Hi, everybody. This is talking Dateline. I'm Josh Makowitz, and our guest today is Dennis Murphy.


Hey, bud. How are you?


I'm good. Great to see you. This episode is called Family Matters. Now, if you haven't heard the podcast of this or if you haven't seen it on television, it's the podcast episode right below this one on the list of podcasts that you just chose from. So go there, listen to it, or watch it on television, and then come back here, because we're doing things a little differently this week. We have a lot of questions for Dennis about this story, and you do, too. A lot of you posted questions on social media after the show, so I'm going to ask those of Dennis later on and we'll talk about what it is that you want to know. We also have an extra clip to play you from one of Charlie's jailhouse conversations. That's something that we didn't have time to include in the broadcast, so there's lots to get to. So let's talk Dateline. The word that came to me again and again while I was watching this was velocity. There is not a slow moment in this.


This story changes by the minute. Josh, it's been going on for ten years, but if you were up to date as of a month ago, you don't really know the case. The shoes just keep dropping. Not only is Charlie convicted of first degree murder, he's gone away for the rest of his life. One week later, police arrest the mother. That is the absolutely new, incredible head shaking development in this case.


I guess the moral here is, no matter what, try to get along with your spouse's parents.


Oh, boy. Have a good Thanksgiving. This really is like a super Bowl, a Florida crime story. There's a murder, and then it morphs into this extraordinary story. We go from a police procedural to these huge themes of blood and rage and hate and venom between family members that is really only found in Shakespeare. But there were so many great things that happened. The police procedural, the CSI Tallahassee, starting with a guy next door who's having a cup of coffee, having his morning, and he hears the gunshots, and he looks at and he's sharp enough to say, it's a light colored car. And if you pressed me, I would say it's a Prius. And then all of a sudden, they had every camera in town going through its memory, looking forward, and they found it. They saw the car at the drop off for the preschool. They saw it at the gym where Danny had gone to workout. It's really chilling. It's watching this guy being stalked, and.


They see the fast path on it, the sun. Mean, that's great, Josh.


How about this? That you're going through one of those funky cameras on the ATM. And it takes a picture suitable for framing of these two guys who have just arrived back in the Miami area after killing. And, you know, one almost leans out of the way so you can get a good shot of the other guy.


Missing you in sunny Florida. Yeah, it was nice.


These guys are not Lex Luthor. Master criminal. A rent car is at the start of all this thing. On the rental document, he puts his real name with his real address with his real phone. Once they come upon that, I mean, it all starts to fall.


Mean, you've got all these people, you got the in laws and you got the outlaws.


How can you commission a murder for hire on your brother in law?


It is, I have to say, just unfathomable. And while I was watching this in the first 15 minutes of this story, the name that kept coming to my lips was Dahlia Palito. Because this is that kind of bonkers story that you just can't take your eyes off of.


A brief on Dahlia. She was a young, beautiful, unhappily married bride who wanted to get rid of her husband. And she made inquiries, and she ended up hiring a Boynton beach undercover police officer. And they staged this great fake killing when she was away at the gym with crime scene tape and cameras and looked like a violent thing had happened. And she boohoo's and goes into the interview room, and of course, she's done. In walks the dead husband.


Oh, my God, she's alive.


That is one of the great moments of all time on Dateline. One more thing that I thought this showed, which was so great, was the value of not just that great police investigation, identifying the suspects over 22 months, but also the wiretaps and the capturing of the conversations.


And the interesting thing, I think it almost could be a breakaway. Special hour is this brilliant shakedown of Donna on the streets of Miami outside her condo. It's called the bump. Imagine a game of pool, and you take the cue ball and you make the break, and balls fly in all directions. That's what they wanted to do. They wanted to make the break there and see what would happen if she's provoked with this apparent extortion attempt from a very bad guy. And you see the guy say, you've taken care of some of the people here. But my brother is incarcerated and he needs money and hands her this copy of a news story about the Dan Markel killer with the number 5000. If you want to get me out of your face, you owe my boy $5,000.


Now, an innocent person in that situation says, I don't know what you're talking about. Get away from me. I'm calling the police. And then you call the police.


She calls Charlie immediately, and he's playing 20 questions, trying to figure out what's happened. He doesn't know who this guy is that's intercepted her on the street. He says, is it about me to concern me? And she says, I think it's probably the both of us.


That's not the kind of thing you want to have to explain in front of twelve impartial jurors. And then the Dolce Vita tape, which is the thing I love about it, is that it's inaudible the first time we hear it. And then later on, after they've cleaned it up, you're going, oh, I got it. I loved that.


My goodness, they put a lot of effort into. And somebody pointed out, and I think that's right, if Magbonoa just to get too far into the weeds. She was tried twice in that time. While they were waiting to put her on trial again, Georgia Kappelman, one of our great american prosecutors, hires this guy, this audio expert, to take yet another detailed pass at the Dolce Vita tape and see what they can come up with. And son of a gun, you can hear, know, it's like a magic slate. The garbage goes away, and that dish clatter in the background is Charlie saying, if they had anything on us, we'd be at the airport by now. Charlie has always been a chatty Cathy. People said, the first thing you know about him is he always running off of the mouth. So he's in jail, and there is a phone there, and it says, this call is being monitored. You should be aware that this is operated by the Leon county, blah, blah, blah, blah. And Donna is also a chatterbox, and she and Charlie are talking for the next week. There is so much blither there. It took a lot of our staff a long time with headphones on to figure out what was going on.


It's astonishing how many people don't read that sign that says this is being recorded or think, well, they don't mean me. I mean, you and I have both done cases in which people say things from inside the slam that they later wish they hadn't say. And then they're astonished when it turns out there's a recording of that.


The best advice would be, why don't you all just shut up?


And he mentions Dateline. I love that. Out of nowhere. Yeah.


Charlie said, you know, this prosecution was like watching Dateline. He wasn't wrong.


Something I think we're going to do more of on talking Dateline is play little bits that did not make it into the tv broadcast. So here's one, and it's from Charlie, post conviction, talking about how much trouble he's in and how his life has changed and is going to continue to change forever.


I'll never go to the beach again. Never go to a nice dinner again. The only thing I do is I'm going to sit here and think about it. Remember what they used to be like. The only way I'll be in prison is very good chance.


That's a clip of Charlie talking from behind bars to his mom, who is self pitying, huh? Yeah.


No more boat, no more.


No. No more nice dinners. No more dates. I got a solution to that problem.


Don't commission a murder. There are consequences for your actions.


You can do all of those things if you just don't hire any hitmen. That phone call from when Charlie was locked up, he drops off the call like at 6 minutes in, but the line stays open and Donna keeps talking for like another 17 minutes.


I don't know if we'll make it out in time. I really don't.


I'm no lawyer, but I would expect that recording is going to get challenged on the grounds that at some point that was no longer a jail call. And it's essentially her talking to herself even though she didn't realize she was talking to herself. Or it's eavesdropping on a private conversation between her and whoever was in the room with her.


Yeah, I think it's probably beyond the understanding of what happens in a jailhouse call.


I'm sure that's going to be litigated at some future point. And I know that you and your team that has seen this through for ten years will be there for that, too.


I hate to say I'm chomping at the bit for a development in a murder case, but I really am.


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The phrase killer dentist is not one that appears on Dateline that often.


It really isn't. I believe the prosecution's theory and the jury's verdicts to date, that Charlie was the mastermind, the person who put this awful thing together.


He's the one that would have known the way to get to those two. You know, the family that slays together stays together.


The wonderful prosecutor in this case says, we wonder. For closing thoughts, you got to step back and look at the mother and Charlie and see that he's really a mama's boy.


Wheel of fortune, right?


Don't you love that I dropped my teeth when I saw the clip, that a, it existed. And there she know to Pat and Vanna, all the children whose names we now know in a totally different context. And she solves the puzzle, which was the mischief maker.


Mischief maker. Yeah, well, art imitating life. The pretty amazing image of this 73 year old grandmother getting arrested at the airport. And she's going to Vietnam. I have trouble believing that she was going to have the kind of life in Vietnam that she wanted to have.


But here she is. She and her husband, they've just finished the passport check. They got their tickets in hand. They're not outside where the gate agents are. They are in the jetway. One of the Miami cops who's on this, and there are a ton of cops, has got a body cam, and you see it all. And there is the agent wrestling for Donna's cell phone, which he dearly wants. He's got a search warrant.


And she kisses her husband goodbye.


And that's it.


Josh, her husband, is standing right there. Harvey, who's been this mild mannered, hardworking dentist.


I guess he's never charged in this.


That's true. And it's like, call this guy an Uber. We don't need him. I mean, what a. You know, I talked to Ruth Markel, the mother of the victim in this thing a few weeks ago. She's an absolutely wonderful person. And I said, ruth, what do you think of Donna's role in this thing? And she said, I think she's the architect of the crime. And where does she fit in the grand scheme of things? Do you think?


Donna, in my mind, is the architect?


But Donna denied that accusation in court.


Has she plead not guilty?


Your honor, you talk with the prosecutor or the prosecutors asked in know, are you done trying people? And she's. Well, we'll see. Could Wendy still be charged?


That's what the court of public opinion wants to know. Josh, she does not have a get out of jail free card. She testified under what they called limited immunity, which means she couldn't be challenged on the thing she said in court that day. But that's not the larger case. So, yes, she could very well be tried. It's a matter of looking at the evidence and seeing what they've got up in Leon county.


That final text of Wendy's, that sounds like it was written by somebody's legal team.


Wendy is an attorney. She has a law degree. She was fairly unruffled on the stand for a lot of her testimony until Kapelman went after her directly. Let's, let's talk turkey here. Your family did this, right? And then she got a little bit ruffled. But she knows how to deflect. She is a lawyer. Words are important to her.


She says a couple of times, Danny treated me badly.


It's not on the record, whatever it is.


Well, and we would know that because it would have been an issue in the divorce.


Sure. It would have come. They brought everything out. All the dirty socks were out in the court for everyone to see.


When Wendy is know on camera that Dan has been mean, if she knew about it, she did a great job. She definitely appears horrified, crushed, grease stricken. And as we know from Dateline, that's not always the case. People don't always look right.


And she crying without tears. Yeah. Wendy's problems. It seems to me, Josh, that she has this sketchy account of her timeline of the morning that he's killed. Danny had the two children that particular day. She's a few miles away, and she says she has to go get a bottle of bourbon for a party that night to fill up the bar kind of gift. And she goes to a liquor store near her old house. But she goes past crime scene Dave and doesn't stop and doesn't ask and never thinks to call the well, is everything all right with the children? She doesn't call Danny. It's like, what is up? It's one of those why are you doing it kind of questions, does it make sense?


I mean, the thing that keeps coming back to me is like, nobody thought about those kids. Nobody thought, what's it going to be like for them to have their dad murdered? It is astonishing that people don't think about the effect of what they do on the kids, who are frequently the actual rope in this tug of war that two sides of a family are fighting. It's just absolutely nuts.


I thought it was chilling. Josh, in one of the intercepted phone calls, I think it's Donna talking to Charlie after the bump. And she interrupts her conversation because she's dealing with the kids, who are obviously very close there, and you hear their little voices, and she's putting on her grandmother voice, and it's time to get ready to get your bath and go upstairs and think, wow, this is the moment that was denied. Ruth and Phil, Marquel, the other grandparents.


Your heart just sort of goes out to them watching this thing, as they watch this horror unfold, not just losing their son, but then everything else that went with it.


Well, what happened is, after their son's murder, they live in Canada. They were able to come down to Florida to visit the children a few times. And then Wendy, mother of the children, said, that's it. No more visitations, and the kids were out of their lives for the next six years. Ruth Markel has had this uphill fight to see her grandchildren all through this, to the extent of going through this, creating this Markel act, giving rights to grandparents to visit their kids in these kinds of OD murder situations.


I've covered three or four families where that act would really help because I definitely know other grandparents who, for exactly these kind of reasons, haven't been allowed to see their grandkids. And these folks on that side are blameless. Not only are they suffering because they lost their son in a horrible, violent way, but they're cut off from his kids, which is extra punishment.


And changing their last name, that really hurts them, too.


Yeah. What is that?


Phil Markel told us, look, if you want to protect them by changing the name, don't call him Adelson, call him Smith or Jones. This just doesn't make any sense.


We're going to come back in a minute with some questions from viewers and listeners. So now we're going to answer some questions from viewers, questions that came in via social media. And before we do that, I should mention that now Dennis is out in the field shooting another story, and you're actually on the road somewhere.


I'm in a producer's car in the middle of Georgia.


That will explain the differences in audio. So let's see. The first one here comes from someone whose initials are HR and their message is repeatedly parking in Keith's space is a firing. Oh, that's internal email. Sorry, that's not viewer mail. Let's go to another one. Here's a question from Denise who asks, what kind of deal did the other man who was driving the getaway car get in return for his turning on the shooter? Did he still have to serve some time in prison also?


Yes, he was already in prison. And so they added time onto him with the deal that he cut with Georgia Kaplan. So he did not have a get out of jail free card. He's got to serve this federal sentence. And then he goes on to the.


Next thing, which I think is a total of 19 years. Here's one from our friend Jamie Gretam, longtime friend of Dateline, who asks, I just feel like I'd be so good at listening to jailhouse calls to find the good Dateline content. I think a lot of people volunteering for that job.


Well, grab a headset and put a coffee down in front of you and you can join the other six eight liners who sat with headphones on and listened to some 30 hours of jailhouse conversations. Tell us when you get tired of it. But that's what it takes to put the story together.


Charlie mentioned Dateline 30 times over four days of calls. He's a regular viewer. We should send him a hat.


Yeah, there must be something in the swag bag. What do you think, Josh? You got control of that stuff?


I don't think there's a Dateline file, so I think we're probably safe.


No, and his big point, know, I sat there listening to this case and I felt like I was watching the prosecutor argue Dateline. He said it was Dateline. Dateline, dateline. It's not. It was criminal court. He was charged with first degree murder facing a jury and he got life.


Here's a question from Tara, who wants to know whether Charlie and Donna are going to see your episode in the slam? What do you think?


Well, they've got tvs, but they're limited. They live in kind of pod areas. There's like 30 or 40 people together. And then there's a consensus, I guess, about what they will allow them to watch. They tend to not let them watch shows like Dateline. I think that doesn't mean that it didn't happen. But I doubt if Charlie saw it and I doubt if Donna Adelson saw it.


Here's a question from Chris, Ron, and Chris wants to know why would she hire she, Donna, the same attorney that unsuccessfully represented her son Charlie?


Well, she's talking about Dan Rashbaum, who's been the family attorney, well, since 2015. So he's been advising Donna and Harvey Adelson all along. And then when Charlie got indicted, he just shifted his portfolio over to Charlie's murder case and he defended him.


And Gordon, here's a question. People wanted to talk a little bit about Jeff Lacasse. Explain just briefly who he is and what's the significance of his police interview.


He became Wendy's boyfriend after the divorce from Dan, and she is complaining to him constantly about the divorce. And he has some interesting stories to tell, table conversations about. He's the source of the story that Wendy told him in a not joking know, Charlie's been trying to find a hitman, words to that effect, which was a bombshell that she denies. But Jeff Lacasse is a very interesting figure. And I thought he looked a little like Dan Markel, too.


Dennis, thank you. I have a feeling this is not the last time we're going to be talking about the Adelson family on talking DaTelINe. But I'm going to let you get back to actually covering the next episode of DatelINe that you're working on. And I'm writing two of them today, so we're both busy.


Always good to talk to you, bud.


Dennis, thank you. And everybody else, see you Fridays on Dateline on NBC.


She didn't want me to tell anybody, but she said, so can I tell now? There's no going back.


A family divided by secrets. We're terrified.


It's like you're living with the enemy.


An all new dateline, Friday, nine eight central, only on NBC.