Editor's Note: Accuracy is not guaranteed; you can help us get better by highlighting mistakes and suggesting edits! Please fill out this survey if you wish to learn more about us and our mission or send me an email.
If you're feeling a little lost or overwhelmed right now, I can relate, and that's why I can't recommend our sponsor better help enough. They'll assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist and you can start communicating with them in less than 48 hours. This is not a crisis line and it's not self-help. It's professional counseling done securely online. One of the best things about better help is that you can log into your account any time and send a message to your counselor.
You'll get timely and thoughtful responses. Plus, you can even schedule weekly video or phone sessions. There's a broad range of expertise available and they're recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states. So you're sure to find a great match to get 10 percent off your first month visit. Better help dotcom slash DL. NBC join the over one million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional at better LPI Dotcom, Dell, NBC Better Help Dotcom Slash Dell NBC.
I'm Lester Holt.
Tonight on Dateline, a verdict in a case we've been covering for years as detectives investigate a possible link between a wealthy family and a mysterious murder. He's got blood all over his head. The police were very fast to say that he was the intended target. That's when the theory started to fly. Was it somebody who got a bad grade or was it a co-worker? There was an ongoing nasty divorce. He leaves the parking lot here and is headed back towards his house.
At that point, he is being hunted. The police have called this a murder for hire. You can see the Prius pull up to the ATM. Her account went from nothing to a lot virtually within weeks. You had this connection to the Miami underworld. You just thought this can't be true.
Did he ever joke about you looked into hiring a hitman, but buying you a TV as a divorce president would be cheaper? He did make that joke. These guys didn't hire themselves. I believe that the truth has a way of coming out.
Here's Dennis Murphy with the Tallahassee Trent. It's the story of a brazen shooting which would stump a team of law enforcement agencies saga the Dateline has been covering for five years.
It started as a true whodunit or a why did they do it? That's as cold blooded killing as you can get.
It would expose the secrets of a bitter, messy divorce that just didn't make any sense to me. It seemed totally random and ignite a family's search for justice, for shot, then death, then murder, you know, repair from that.
And tonight, we have the latest developments in the case with newly revealed evidence. New details and bombshell testimony in my stomach, kind of.
It was like a chilling statement, all of it forming the latest chapter in this explosive tale. Do you know who killed that, Marco? No. It was a beautiful July morning in this quiet, upscale neighborhood in Tallahassee, Florida. The day began routine.
Dan Marquel, a beloved, an accomplished law professor at Florida State University, dropped off his two sons at school, swung by the gym for a workout, then drove up the driveway into his garage that the quiet was shattered.
A neighbor heard shots and called 911. What? No one wants the address of your emergency. It's right next door to my house.
Jan Marquel had taken two bullets to the head, his car window smashed, his eyeglasses broken, his inside, the car running, and he's got blood all over his head.
The neighbor gave this earwitness account. We heard a loud bang and a car pulled away from next door. And while the neighbor only heard the shots, he did manage to see something.
That car was backing up. It was like colored white or silver.
I wanted to say it was a free word, quickly started to get around that something frightening had happened. In this peaceful Tallahassee neighborhood.
Dan's friends and neighbors, Jeremy and Tracy Cohen, were only getting bits and pieces.
I drove home and I drove by Danny's house and there was a police car in his driveway. What did you think had happened?
I just didn't dream that Danny could have been shot on a Friday in our neighborhood. It just didn't make any sense to me. It seemed totally random.
Tallahassee authorities reached Dan's parents, Ruth and Phil, that Friday afternoon.
At the time, I remember I was just in total shock. Shock? That doesn't make sense. I know it. It's it's who would ever want to shoot down market? So for me, it was an out of body experience. Like I, I can, you know, even I don't even want to think about it in terms of that. The moments were so horrific. Dan's parents quickly made their way to Tallahassee, but never did get to say goodbye.
Dan Markel died overnight in the hospital. He was 41. It's tough to talk about until now, Dan's friend Josh Berman got the call at home in New York. I put the phone down. I sat there on the bed with my head in my hands. I was like, you know, speechless.
The Markle's held a funeral service soon after in accordance with their Jewish faith.
So it's obviously very fresh. But I think we'd started to kind of mentally move from, you know, the shock of it all into kind of who's responsible and trying to get answers.
Dan's friends and family knew the police were asking the same questions. Who was in that Prius and why would anyone want to kill Dan Markel? Investigators started by looking for the simplest explanation. What about the home invasion?
Inopportune robbery. The police shut that down relatively quickly. They were very fast to say that he was the intended target.
So then the question is, who wants him dead? Right. And so that's when the theories started to fly. There's a lot of moving parts and a lot of different agencies involved in this case.
Jason Newland is an investigator for the Leon County State Attorney's Office and work closely with the Tallahassee police and the FBI on the case. He says they initially examined multiple theories looking at hostile commenters on Markle's legal blog. He liked to ignite debate. He kept a blog site.
He did have on some pretty sharp comments on there. There was a lot of back and forth on their.
But for Dan, the back and forth on the Internet could get highly toxic at times even menacing. One commenter accused Dan of censoring posts on his blog, writing, bullies like this need to be made radioactive. Their arrogance and imperiousness speaks for itself. All means necessary must be employed. When Dan wrote back saying he felt threatened. The commenter replied, You're worried about your home and private life being a target. What about your graduates homes and private lives or lack thereof?
You've ruined their lives, you fool. Still, there was no evidence the disputed ever left cyberspace. So investigators started looking into Dan's life at the university.
Going to be as simple as a student who got a bad grade or got thrown out of the law school coming back and taking his revenge.
All of that was taken into consideration. Was it somebody who got a bad grade or was it a co-worker?
So investigators interviewed his students and fellow faculty and combed through his e-mail to see if there was any suspicious correspondence. Nothing turned up with his professional life not bearing any fruit. Investigators started taking a hard look at Dan's personal life. It turned out his marriage to another accomplished legal professional, Wendy Adilson, had ended in divorce. A messy one, very bad blood.
I think it had been building and building and things were about to come to a head. And did they ever went to lawyers?
Divorce? It can get ugly fast. And Wendy moved first. When we come back, just about cleaned the house out.
She took everything that was important to her and and to the kids. He called it his Pearl Harbor moment. Tallahassee police had very little to go on in the murder of Dan Marquel, shot twice in his garage in a targeted killing, while theories involving some kind of angry student or Internet stalker were going nowhere. Police were also focusing on Dan's personal life. He was a connector of people, Dan's friends. The Cohens knew him well. Dan was great at friendship.
He really wanted to always gather people around him.
If I were to say, tell me who this guy is or what I mean brilliant and interesting and interested in kind of the world around you and and what's going on in your life, you know, there's definitely an ego there. He knew how bright he was.
Bright may be understating it. The native Canadian made his way to Harvard. How were his college years ago? So much based on his expectations.
He left Harvard.
Dan graduated with high honors and earned his law degree there. While preparing for an academic career, he met a law student, Wendy Adilson. She'd grown up in South Florida, the daughter in a well-to-do family of dentists. And with that, a legal romance was born.
They were like visibly lovey dovey.
Dan's friend, Josh Berman. What do you think? The glue was mutually the attraction? Wendy is definitely a sharp cookie. They had some overlapping interests, but quite candidly, they just seemed to be in love with each other.
Yes, absolutely. They they had pet names for each other. They called each other Wendy Baer and Danny Baer.
Wendy got her degree and specialized in immigration law, even wrote a novel about human trafficking titled This is Our Story.
She was also very bright. She was really amazing.
And the two married in 2006 and settled here in Tallahassee, both taking positions at FSU law school.
Pretty soon their two sons came along, then left the boys more than anything else in the world, much more even than his sort of academic acclaim. And were you happy to be a grandmother?
I loved it. They were very, very nice boys.
Our second speaker is Dan Marquel. So Dan was often away. He was a sought after speaker at legal conferences across the country, including this appearance for the Federalist Society.
I guess I've been working in the in the realm of punishment theory for the last dozen years or so.
Dan's career was in high gear, but trouble was brewing at home. Police spoke to family and friends about it, including Traci Cohen.
What had gone wrong? How much did she tell you?
Quite a bit. She believed that he didn't see her as an equal in the marriage. It was about her happiness. Right.
She just was not happy with with him and what he was able to give her.
The day came in September 2012, while Dan was away traveling for work, Wendy packed up the kids and left divorce papers on the bed. He called it his Pearl Harbor moment.
And when she was out of there, she was really out of there, wasn't she? She was just about cleaned the house out, as you know. Danny would talk about it in court documents later.
Yeah. She took everything that was important to her and and to the kids.
Wendy got her own place in Tallahassee and a War of the Roses styled battle began.
I think it had been building and building.
Steven Webster was a divorce attorney for Dan and became a friend. The motions, how petty did it get?
Well, at a sixty thousand foot level, you know, top 10 percent of the law school class, about as petty as you could get. But, you know, they were comprehensive and they were scholarly and it was a battle of wits.
The battle waged for two years as each accused the other of lying and hiding assets, tons of issues.
But was the large one where the kids are going to be raised, where they're going to live, the children, where everything the money stuff, I mean, it really was just a sideshow.
Wendy filed this motion in the divorce with a key demand. Never a fan of Tallahassee. She wanted to move.
As I understand it, Wendy, Adilson wanted to take the children with her and move closer to her family in South Florida. Absolutely. Six, seven hours away. Was that was that the question? That was the initial question. And Family Law Court said you cannot do that. If the children are here in a stable environment and the father can participate fully with the raising of the children. The law prefers that. And should that motion was denied, we weren't going back there unless some monumental change in the facts occurred.
Dan and Wendy's divorce became final in 2013. It was a painful time for both of them, but by the summer of 2014, Wendy was dating a fellow professor. Dan had found someone new to he visited Josh in New York that July. Did you see the lights go back on and Danny?
Yes, that was super wonderful to see. He had gone through a really tough period and met someone again. He was genuinely happy.
But the custody arrangement was still an irritant on both sides, 50/50 sharing arrangement. Absolutely. And he availed himself of every second and quite frankly, wanted some time that maybe she found offensive. You know, he wanted more than just the time that was offered to him in the marital settlement agreement.
According to court documents, Wendy was finding Dann's demands unreasonable. So Dan filed a motion for a hearing to work the issues out with the judge.
On the scale of ugly, how ugly was this one? I mean, it was about to go off the Richter scale.
Dan was killed before that hearing could happen.
Now, police were about to talk to Wendy, who would be remarkably forthcoming about their bitter divorce and a whole lot more coming up.
Danny didn't treat me very well.
Did Wendy have a motive for murder or did she know someone who did so scared that maybe someone did this not because they hate Danny, it was because they thought this was good.
So when Dateline continues, the investigation into the death of Florida law professor Dan Markel was just hours old when his ex-wife, Wendy Adilson, first spoke to police.
They began the interview by telling her what had happened. Earlier that morning at Dan's house, there was a shooting. At your home or your your husband's home, your husband, your ex-husband. Excuse me, Daniel has been taken to the hospital. He's not going to survive, OK? Funny. Well, before we get into everything, I have to establish where you were and who you were with and so forth. OK, and then once we established all that, see more details.
Do you understand why I wanted you to come here before I go through tears? Wendy told the detective where she'd been that day. She said she'd been at home having her TV repaired and was working on a paper five miles away from the scene of the crime.
Can you tell me what time you left your house this morning? Yeah, it was there. I didn't leave this morning. Didn't leave until noon. OK. Oh, my God. I tried to drive up to Scott and I saw that it was blood.
What do you see in her demeanor? How does she present herself? She was sad. She was confused. She was lost. The range of emotions in that four or however many hour interview it was, there was a wide range.
Do you know anybody that would have a beef against your ex-husband? I hate to ask it now, but I had to do it now. You understand every step of you. And he had friends. He was he always meant well, but he would sometimes rob people the wrong way, but not to do something like anybody that he owes money to know, his money to be made to, you know, be OK. All right. So I know a lot of people just really love him, but I don't know what he wanted to do, something like this.
Well, it appears from from what we've seen so far that someone intentionally hurt him intentionally. OK, I don't think, you know, where is your closest family? And my parents are in Coral Springs, OK? Oh, and my brother I have two brothers, but I'm very close to one of them who is in Fort Lauderdale. OK, I suppose that's where you're from originally, I take it. Yeah, my as is a killer. They don't know they have another call to do.
OK, they're going to make it through the night. Now just don't jump to conclusions on that.
Oh my God.
Wendy would go on to tell her version of that War of the Roses divorce with Dad.
You guys have been divorced for over a year. Has there been any type of abuse in that type of him towards me? You. No, no.
The interview was on for hours. Wendy, herself a lawyer, had waived her right to an attorney, and now the questions got sharper.
No, I got it. I got to ask you something, OK? Yeah. Do you own a gun? Yeah.
Tallahassee police took photos and swabbed her hands for gunshot residue. None was found in Georgia.
Koppelman is deputy assistant state attorney in Leon County, Florida, and would review the tape with law enforcement.
She told the truth about the status of their relationship, that it wasn't a happy marriage in the end and it was a very bad divorce, correct?
It certainly was of interest to law enforcement that there was an ongoing nasty divorce and litigation concerning these children.
That's part of a classic recipe for homicides. Yep. But detectives were eventually able to check out her alibi and confirm that she could not have shot her ex-husband.
I have no reason at this point to suspect you in this incident. OK, I couldn't tell from the way you're talking to me in the car if I was obsessed. Well, no.
Police had ruled out Wendy as their shooter, but still they drilled down for anything that could help with their murder investigation. The one time couple circle who out there might have a clue as to who killed? Could someone in her own life be behind?
Daddy didn't treat me very well. So scared that maybe someone did this, not because they hate Danny. It was because they thought this was going so well. Oh, are you saying that you think maybe one of your friends would have done something like this? I don't know. That's why. And that's why you're here. And that's why we're talking.
Wendy told them she'd been seeing another man after the divorce. Jeffrey Lucas, an assistant professor of social work at FSU. What's his story? This is the guy that Wendy has been dating. There's been some some trouble within days of this incident. They had broken up.
She's been my boyfriend. We've been dating since the end of October. We had like a fight at the end of June. And it was weird. I asked him to just contact for a week just so I could kind of figure out whether I wanted to be with him or not. When did you ask him? Monday night after yoga. I sent him an email Monday night.
Wendy said she wanted to cool things off because Jeff had become increasingly jealous, searching through her texts, accusing her of having other boyfriends. I'm wondering what brought this on the whole not trusting thing. I mean, I've been dating someone else in the fall, you know, who's jealous of him.
The detective wanted to know something more about Jeff. If he was the kind of guy who might act rashly.
Is Jeff a violent person? No, not at all. No. Jeff on a gun? I don't think so. I mean, he certainly could have a gun and I wouldn't know about it.
Another key question could make a difference for investigators. What kind of car is Jeff Drive?
I'm really bad with this.
It's silver colored, a silver colored car. I looked over and a car was backing up.
The neighbor described seeing a silver or white Prius leaving the scene of the crime. Could this be their killer? The police needed to track down Jeff Lucas. Coming up, I'm not the only man that had a boyfriend carrying a torch for Wendy and a grudge against Dan, and I said 100 times in public that I could kick his ass. Wendy said some things that made police curious about her recent boyfriend, Geoffrey Lukash, so three days after Dan Markle's murder, they found licorice and brought him in for an interview.
OK. All right. Mr. Philippos, I appreciate you coming in and talking with hair. Like I said, we're still in the preliminary stages of this investigation. Your name didn't come out because you were associated at some point with Wendy, of course, which is his ex-wife, as I'm sure you know. Yeah. It's pretty clear even from that initial interview that the police, you know, they're interested in Jeff's relationship with Wendy. Journalist Matthew Share has been so intrigued by the mysteries of the MARKELLE murder, he created a widely admired podcast about the case called Over My Dead Body, a case that says at least as much about marriage in love as it does about revenge and justice.
Jeff, by his own admission, is in love, still in love with Wendy at that time. And yet, look, of course, the police must think, you know, Jeff didn't like that either. Again, by his own admission in the interview, Lackas openly shared those feelings of love for Wendy and jealousy for another man he learned she had been seeing on the side. She's always traveling and away she's booked. And I'm totally suspicious of that.
Now, she actually said, I'm so busy with work and she is a prolific attorney, writer and all that stuff. Hard to see this guy. I guess if you want to talk about it, that's fine. I still remember again what she said. She said, OK, this is more than a week anyway. And I said, OK, problem solved. You know, but it turned out Wendy did see that other man again. And Laskaris caught them together in front from the I did it.
I started walking towards them and started firing at that. I do not need to end up being arrested for assault on ice and stuff. So I just wanted to catch her. And she went to the bathroom, was sobbing in the bathroom, was her worst nightmare. But she saw me there. So I let her see me. But I never confronted them. I just got out of their way because I didn't want to see them. And that's when we started fighting because I lost our trust.
There were times out the spring semester that I'm 99 percent confident that she was seeing both of us. There were all kinds of signs and stuff going on and anxiety and things like that. He said he even snooped through her calendar getting suspicious that more men might be seeing Wendy then just three days before Dan's murder. But Cathy got that email from Wendy. She wanted to take a break. We met Wendy not personally. Oh, very charismatic and very good at you.
Take this leads to anything for nothing the that has been under her thumb. And now, I mean, she really has this charisma, the sexuality. And so of her advice for this girl. Did you think Lucas was still head over heels for Wendy? Oh, definitely. She said your past tense, but he didn't see it that way. Now, I think he would have loved another chance to Police Chief Lacassine straight out of central casting, the jilted boyfriend, a man who made no secret of his dislike for Dan using some choice words we can't repeat here.
So we know that Danny, Mark and Wendy Story have been living with her for the last nine months. He knows what he was afraid of, Danny, when he would have a panic attack in front of Danny, which I was maybe. And is pretty closed off. She doesn't disclose information easily. I wonder have used to beat her ass. I didn't know, you know, but she seemed out of proportion. Her guy was just kind of a gentleman.
Given everything Lucas was saying about dance. Police had to wonder if he might have turned his anger into action. The detective wanted to know his whereabouts around the time of the shooting. Friday, I drove to Tennessee, Harrogate, Tennessee. I just got back. Would you drive your vehicle 2020 transaction? What's the color of this? 2004, the telegraph metallic gray.
The witness had described a white or silver car sounded close. You've never had any kind of physical contact with them? No. I surprised you guys didn't call earlier, though, because I said 100 times in public that I could kick his ass because he kept really making out here and things like that. Right.
But no, I would never, ever, ever faster anything like that.
And it turned out he didn't. He's got friends who can vouch for him. He's got credit card receipts. He was nowhere near the place around the time of the murder.
So he's got an alibi that holds up. He does. He whispers in the driveway is not him.
Correct alibis both Wendy and now Jeff Lucas had them. Neither was a suspect. It was time for the police to find that call. Coming up, killers caught on camera stalking Dan, he leaves the parking lot here and is headed back towards his house at that point. He is being hunted. They're not going to let him out of their sights. Not when Dateline continues.
In the days after Dan Markle's murder, Tallahassee cops eliminated one person of interest after another. Those closest to the law professor, those who liked him and those who didn't. All provided seemingly solid alibis for the time of the shooting.
A service for Dan at his Tallahassee temple was packed with friends and FSU law school colleagues. How did Wendy seem to be taking it?
I think she was she cried after the ceremony, as you would expect, and she was overwhelmed and totally distraught. And she talked to us about the importance of us kind of come together for the sake of these boys after the memorial service.
Wendy moved to South Florida with her two boys back in Tallahassee.
Meanwhile, homicide detectives were stumped. Their best lead from the crime scene was a thin one. It came from Danz neighbor who thought he saw the getaway vehicle and made the 911 one call that he was like Charlotte White or silver.
I want to say it was a phrase the eyewitness was vague about the car's color, but the make and model provided a start. So detectives canvassed homes in Dann's neighborhood, seeking surveillance video that might have captured the vehicle.
No luck, but maybe someone had been tailing down on that fateful day. Cops retraced his movements that morning looking for clues.
Jason dropped the kids off at the preschool roughly, what, five minutes? A nine, something like that close to that. And then he's he's driving right down this road to go to the gym.
Cops found security video of Dan as he arrived at the gym at nine, 13 a.m. You could see him checking it.
We didn't see him scan his keycard. And then police checked security cameras outside the health club and hit a forensic home run. What do you know? There was a Prius that resembled the getaway vehicle described by the neighbor.
Eyewitnesses in the video, you see them tail him across this. Actually, this after's road right here. And then he cuts in and parks in one of these front rows right here.
And they come on around this way, the vehicle can be seen moving around the parking lot as if to get a better view of the exit. At ten, thirty four a.m., Dan leaves the gym.
When Dan drives out of the parking lot, the Prius is 20 seconds behind him.
He leaves the parking lot here and is headed back towards his house. At that point, he is being hunted.
They're not going to let him out of their sights, not cops knew they were on the right trail. But there wasn't enough detail in the gym security footage to make out the Prius, his license plate or identify anyone inside. By then, more than a week had passed since the murder. That's when a Tallahassee cop had an investigator brainstorm. City buses all had cameras, right.
What did they record? He collected surveillance video from buses driving near Dan's neighborhood around the time he was shot.
Bingo there at ten forty seven a.m. on the southbound road, Dan took home was the Prius, multiple angles of it driving toward the Marcal House. And investigators discovered another video from another bus recorded moments after the murder. There was the same Prius heading away from the scene of the crime.
You have a lot of active movements in the passenger seat, which would make you believe there's two people in the car.
Forensic experts screened those surveillance videos again and again. They couldn't read the license plate, but did determine the Prius was a model released between 2006 and 2009. And they figured out its color, a paint Toyota calls silver pine MAIKA. Law enforcement would spend months learning just how many silver pine like a Prius were driving around the Sunshine State with hundreds of Prius to check out the investigation ground. On more than a year past, we were in touch with the police.
They kept in contact with us, but there was no breakthrough. There was no information other than there was this Prius.
But on very careful inspection, those bus images had gleaned some nuggets on the windshield of the Prius was a Florida sun passed gadget one of those devices for making automatic toll payments.
Now, investigators started looking for silver pine like a Prius that used sun pass around the time of Dan's murder. And finally, 500 miles south of Tallahassee, they found one that had done just that. It hit a transponder on I 75 heading toward Tallahassee the afternoon before Dan was killed.
What's more, the same sun passed ding. The very same turnpike exit in the opposite direction on the day Dan died, timestamped five twenty three p.m. the timeline for the shooting window perfectly.
It was assigned to actual business.
The Sun passed business account came back to a small car rental agency in North Miami. The renter, one Luis Rivera, his true cell phone number and correct Miami address were on the form. Also on the paperwork, cops found another cell phone number marked simply, Brother, you've got one name. How do you get the second name?
The second name came through phone records and a whole lot more investigation. And then you finally get a number that stands out and that's how you end up establishing Sigfried Garcia.
Two names known to law enforcement, Sigfried Frido Garcia and Luis Rivera both had criminal records. Garcia had been arrested for robbery and burglary, and Rivera was a member of the Latin Kings Gang with names, addresses and phone numbers. Detectives contacted Rivera and Garcia's employers and banks looking hard at ATM transactions, and they were able to locate a withdrawal from a bank down in Pembroke Pines.
And this is on the day that the date of the homicide and you can actually see the Prius pull up to the ATM and you can see Luis Rivera driving and he sits forward and you can clearly see Sigfried Garcia sitting in the passenger seat there on the day of Dan Markle's murder, where there are two prime suspects together in a silver pine like a Prius.
That was a perfect match for the vehicle seen stalking Dan. It had taken cops nearly 22 months to make their case. Sigfried Garcia and Luis Rivera were arrested and charged with the murder of Dan Marquez. Both men pleaded not guilty, but it was far from case closed. The arrests only deepened the mystery of Dan Markle's murder.
Why would two guys from South Florida who apparently had no contact with Professor Marquel drive 500 miles to kill somebody? They don't know? That's what we're all trying to get to. Coming up, a growing suspicion this was a murder for hire. It wasn't a random act that they came up here for him. And an odd joke from Wendy's brother, Charlie.
He said I you know, I looked into hiring a hit man and it was cheaper to get you this TV. Nearly two years after Dan Markel was gunned down in his Tallahasse garage, cops had two men in custody. The accused, Sigfried Garcia and Luis Rivera, were occasional Miami construction workers with criminal histories from the moment the pair were arrested. Suspicions about a larger conspiracy had swirled. Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo faced the media.
Would you characterize this as a murder for hire, since there's no known relationship between Mr. Rivera or Mr. Garcia and Professor Marquel that obviously they was not a random act, that they came up here for him.
Danz friends also thought there had to be more to it. These guys, Garcia and Rivera, didn't wake up one morning and say.
We've got two options, we can hang out on the beach and drink or have fun or go out on motorcycles, or we can go rent a car drive, you know.
To Tallahassee, spend the night go murder some guy we never met point blank in his garage and then drive back. So this is not case closed.
No, the police have called this a murder for hire, and these guys didn't hire themselves. Investigators believed if they learn more about their suspects, they'd come closer to figuring out who put them up to the killing.
Garcia has less of a criminal history than Rivera, but also, you know, pretty bad actor. They discovered that right after Dan Markle's death, the two men went on a spending spree buying cars and motorcycles. Garcia posted his new toys on Facebook. Here are the two on their bikes. It seemed they'd come into major amounts of discretionary cash, but where had it come from? Who was the paymaster with the money, the Malus and the desire to see Dan Markel dead?
Stymie detectives went back into their notes and delve deeper into the legal filings that flew back and forth during Dan and Wendy's divorce, their documents led the cops down another path, one that took them from the shadier side of the Miami underworld to a highly respected and prosperous family of professionals, the Elson's Dan Markle's in-laws.
It had never been a particularly good relationship between Dan and Wendy's parents. There was not a lot of love lost between the two families.
How toxic did it get? Well, cops discovered that in the divorce suit, Marquel versus Marquel, Wendy had a forceful person in her corner, her mother, Donna Adilson. In a series of emails obtained by Dateline, she encouraged Wendy to go low, fight dirty. Hi, honey. It's time for action. Let's show this f what will make him absolutely miserable. Wendy's mother reminds her daughter just how high the stakes are for their family and to behave accordingly.
The rest of your life and consequently, dad's mine and yes, even Charles will be affected by how well you can perform. You can be a good actress when you want to. I've seen you in action.
There were emails that were collected throughout this process and there was communication between Wendy and Donna about just offer him a million dollars and still go raise the kids in a circus. Go. Here's a million bucks.
Dear Donna, Adilson laid out that plan to get Dan out of the picture in another email to Wendy. We're planning on you, Charlie and Dad and I going as high as equal parts in a one million dollar offer.
That's 333 K from each of us. In fact, dance tension and ill will toward. His mother in law was going off the charts three months before his murder. He filed a motion asking the court to prevent his sons from spending unsupervised time with Wendy's mother. What's the backdrop of this thing?
One of the grandchildren said, you know, basically grandma, mommy hates daddy and had made some other remarks around Danny that suggested that she had kind of referred to him in a derogatory fashion.
So he darn does not want grandma poisoning the kids.
Now, Wendy also put her parents smack in the middle of the homicide investigation with a seemingly offhand remark during her police interview that, you know, it's like my parents have more reason to dislike him and almost anyone else hear their daughter.
But Wendy's folks harming Dan Markel seemed improbable given their circumstances.
Her dad, Harvey, was a prominent dentist who, along with her mother, Donna, ran the Adilson Dental Institute in Tamarack, Florida, a family concern featured in this promotional video.
My name is Dr. Charlie Adilson and I am a periodontist.
Wendys older brother, Charlie, had a lucrative implant practice.
What I love about what I do is being able to restore people's smiles. Doctor Charlie was also a flashy figure around the Miami area with some eye catching rides.
He lives all the lifestyle of a single successful guy, right? He's got the sports cars with license plate that say, Maestro, he's got a Grado and pool in his backyard.
Investigators knew that brother Charlie was a confidant of Wendy's. He had her back. She even brought it up in her interview.
My brother thought he was Charlie, but I'm really close to he knew that he treated me badly and it was a racist joke. He said, I, I you know, I looked at the hiring a hit man and it was cheaper to get you this TV. So instead I got you this TV of me, and he would never use his big brother. He's taking care of me since I was little. Would you think that this guy, Charlie, would even be capable of doing something like that?
Let's just talk to the Joker.
OK, maybe. But the prosecutors weren't laughing. According to when they Marquel or when you eidelson, it was suggested by the brother in the form of a joke.
But it's a very strange thing to say very in light of the circumstances, wouldn't be any big deal if he was alive and well with us.
Investigators asked Wendy's ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Lucas, to come back for a second interview. He had some reservations about possible media coverage and I just said, watch Dateline.
And not that I can just imagine that me being presented with these pseudo suspects until they do it, you know, I don't think they're going to do that.
Look, that's also related something he said. Wendy told him that Charlie really had looked into hiring a hitman.
I want to make sure I understand what Charlie did look into having Danny killed. Last summer. It would cost about 15000 dollars, and that's not exactly word for word, but that's pretty close to what she said.
It's the second time now you're hearing about Hetman Rice being the solution to this problem is having. That's right.
It was all very interesting, this smoke gathering around Wendys family of dentists. Now, a new witness for the prosecution just might be able to cut through the haze.
Coming up, our ciottone. We're going to go ahead kill a suspect flips and suggests a possible motive.
You definitely want to go get them. And later, a suspicious link.
She is the recent ex-girlfriend of Charlie Eidelson, Wendy Olsen's brother, when Dateline continues. We get support from what is possibly the coolest sponsor we've had, hunter, killer. It's a murder mystery subscription box and it's hands down one of the most unique games I've ever played. Hunter Killer feels like an escape room in a box where you are the main character. Each storyline they do is made up of six boxes and gets shipped straight to your door. And each box is full of realistic evidence, maps, police reports and more to provide a suspenseful and immersive experience.
The storyline that I've been working on has to do with the cold case murder at an old theater. It's my job to help the owner of the theater solve the murder. Working through this thing is a multimedia experience. There are physical clues like old letters, a play program starring my suspects. Even a real metal cufflink plus archives to comb through online fall is here. So grab your cider and sweaters and solve a murder. Right now, just for our listeners, you can go to Hunter Killer Dotcom slash Dateline and use promo code dateline at checkout for 20 percent off your first box.
That's Hunter Killer Dot dotcom slash dateline for 20 percent off. And to show support for our podcast Hunter Killer Dotcom Dateline, we get support from Madison Reid.
For decades, women have had two options for coloring their hair outdated at home color or the time and expense of a traditional salon. I knew there had to be a better alternative out there and lo and behold, I found Madison read. What makes Madison Reed color unique is that it's crafted by master colorists who blend nuances of light, dark, cool and warm tones to create over 55 multidimensional shades. And they make it really easy to find what will suit you best.
Just go online and take their color quiz. You can even use their trian tool to see how you'll look with different shades. I wasn't planning on going brunette, but the Trian tool might have convinced me yet. Omonia free multiton, all hair color delivered to your door, starting at just 22 dollars at Madison Dasch retcon. Use our code dateline and you'll get ten percent off plus free shipping on your first color kit. That's Code Dateline at Madison. Dasch, Reed, Dotcom.
The two men charged with the murder of FSU professor Dan Markel sic Fredo Garcia and Luis Rivera had been locked up for nearly five months when prosecutor Georgia Koppelman got the word one of them wanted to cooperate. Who Crack's Rivera ultimately gave a statement? Why does he give it up, do you think? Save his own skin. In exchange for a reduced sentence, Rivera agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder and promised to tell all the Miami gang bangers upon a chilling story about the stalking and killing of Dan Marquel.
I want to make sure I understand it. Did you ever meet or know or hear of Daniel markelle before this occurred? No. Never heard of him. Never knew anything about him? No, sir. What about Wendy Eidelson? Not all cops wanted to know. If he'd never even heard of Marquel. Then just how did Rivera end up in that Prius with Sigfried or Garcia and a loaded 38 revolver headed for Tallahassee? I'm a good boy. OK, I to rob drug dealers.
I thought we're going to come in and rob some money, you know? So when I get in a car, that's when Garcia told me, well we're coming up if we're going to have to kill somebody, Rivera said. Garcia told him he had a contract to kill Marquel and needed his help. I'm going to kill this guy. You're going to get paid this much study, 35000 dollars. We're driving. He showed me a picture of my kid.
There's a guy named Mark, and I don't need only the name of the name because I'm not going to remember the name. Just show me the picture for you. The one he was hiring to do the murder, because I don't understand why only two people to commit a murder. They were hiding him. OK, I am. I hired him, he said, going to pay me to go in because he want to go myself. The night before the murder, Rivera said they checked into a motel not far from Markle's home.
The next morning was a Friday Friday morning, but in my case I was waiting for him to come out. When he came out, I followed him with Garcia. To the day care he daycare. I'm just trying to save lives as he comes up with volume again, the next piece of Revera story was supported by the surveillance video.
The cops collected him to the jail, waited in the parking lot for a while, 45 to an hour. At the most it got there. So when he came out of the Jamaluddin home, as I'm flying home, he goes around the back. I thought we we met a in the garage. I was like a maybe like three or four feet away from his car. He jumps out of the car when he's driving, they might kill us on the phone.
And they said twice in the car, we left cab.
I mean, it's as cold blooded a killing as you can get to drive all the way to Tallahassee and pull up into someone's driveway that you don't know and just shoot him in cold blood.
We don't look pleasant. Ridge can remember that. We never spoke about this again and never told.
No, but investigators looked at bridges on the route the Prius traveled trying to find the murder weapon.
We tried to locate it, put Rivera in a van and drove him from Tallahassee all the way almost to Alligator Alley and he couldn't pick out which location it was again.
So do you believe this guy? He's got a bad record.
A lot of what he tells you can be corroborated with evidence. And that's what you go with.
The explosive story Rivera told to cops way beyond just Garcia and his involvement in Dan Markle's killing. In his proffer, Rivera offered an answer to the cop's biggest question. What was the motive for Dan Markels murder?
Because I asked him why he was killed, because the lady was to get back. She want full custody of the kids because he got here. The custody that was that that was a plan. That was the deal. What I want to go give.
But it wasn't just his buddy that Rivera gave up to law enforcement as a killer. He said someone else was involved.
It was a woman whose name came up when investigators leaned on Rivera about how Garcia, whose nickname is Tuto, knew the motive for Dan shooting added to the no clear cut case of Katie.
Who was Katie and did she know who paid to have Dan markelle murdered? Coming up, he called me and he said everything is done to make sure you have my money.
A mystery woman with links to the accused killers and the Adilson family, she was getting a paycheck from Mandelson's.
Luis Rivera had told police it was just past news when he eased the Prius onto the 75 southbound lanes just outside Lake City, Florida. He was heading home to Miami and driving at the very moment for devoting the whole time. Back in Tallahassee, Dan Marquel was on life support, but Rivera told police his partner, Sigfried Garcia, wasn't thinking about the man he just shot. He was thinking about a woman. He called and he said, everything is done.
Make sure you have my money. I'm on my way. The woman on the other end was Garcia's common law wife, the mother of his children, Katie McMonagle. You hear her, on the other hand. Here she goes. OK, I know, right? OK, I know. I'm like this, you know, but this case was 100, 106 gave with Katie Ogbonna what was a name. The detectives already knew very well. Their investigation had turned up some critical details about her.
She was employed at a couple of dental practices. She was employed at a real estate company. She was employed at a bar at one point, a modest income at best. Yet in a curious bit of timing, today's cash flow and South Florida standard of living suddenly improved after Dan MARKELLE was murdered in Tallahassee, started looking at her bank accounts and her bank account for the end of twenty fourteen through twenty fifteen went from a minimal low income bank account to one hundred thousand dollars cycling through in less than a year.
In fact, on the day after the Marquel murder, Luis Rivera says Garcia and Katie personally delivered a bag full of money to his house and might get their case upstairs. I grabbed the bag together. I think the money at stake, he says. He got thirty thousand dollars and that Garcia ended up giving him a cut of his, which ended up putting it like thirty five, thirty six thousand dollars. Some idea what they did with the money, don't you?
Because picture starts showing up on social media. He bought some cars, bought motorcycles. I believe a couple of them went on some trips. Rivera says he paid for some rent for family members and stuff like that. If Katie was the one paying off the two murder suspects, investigators naturally wanted to know who was paying Katie. Once again, it was Katie's bank account that provided prosecutors with a tantalizing clue, a clue that seemed to implicate Dan Markle's in-laws.
She was getting a paycheck from Mandelson's 400 bucks and change. Correct. Was there any obvious work that she was doing? There was no obvious work that law enforcement was able to uncover. So she wasn't physically going there. She wasn't doing anything on the phone. Nobody that worked there seems to know what it was that she does or had ever seen her working there. Yet she's drawing a paycheck. The checks were signed by Donna Eidelson, Wendy's mom.
But it turns out Katie's connection to the Elson's ran a lot deeper than a few canceled checks because she is the girlfriend or a recent ex girlfriend of Charlie Edelsten, Wendy Olsen's brother. So there's your heavier hit guys. One of them has a girlfriend, Katie Bonniwell, who has also been a girlfriend of Charlie Adilson. Correct. So she's in the middle of these two, carefully linked to the victim's in-laws and to the actual killer boy, that straddling two worlds.
A review of DMV documents also revealed that Katie was driving a Lexus that came from the adolescents. She did get a car that was previously in the name of Harvey Edelsten, who is the father of Charlie and was I think Charlie gave her the car, was retitled in her name, and there was a nominal payment for that vehicle. Generous, you bet. But Jason Nguon says Charlie Edelsten hadn't finished providing Katie with certain upgrades. We were informed at one point that Charlie paid for half of her breast augmentation done by a guy known in South Florida circles as Dr.
Buechner. Dr. Bhuvan. By the summer of 2016, investigators were connecting so many dots that they seemed to be running together. Podcast producer Matthew Share Sigfried Garcia had a relationship with Katie.
Mike Benowa had kids with Katie Benowa and the Katie Magg. Manawa also dated Charlie Adilson. That is the connection, Dan, on one end. Rivera. Garcia and Katie on the other. Investigators believed it all made for a tidy theory. Their problem was they couldn't prove what they all suspected that Dan Markle's in-laws paid to have him killed.
Coming up, an undercover FBI agent has a message for Wendy Edelstein's mother proving troublesome for gold.
And detectives say Charlie Adilson wasn't happy about it. He used the word we'd have to kill this guy, right?
Yeah, when Dateline continues. After nearly two years on the Marquel murder investigation, detectives believe they had a theory that explained it all. They had two suspects they could put in Tallahassee on the day of the murder and in a car that matched the one spotted leaving the scene. They also identified a woman in Miami who, in their theory, seemed to be the link they were looking for between the hitman and Dan Markle's former in-laws. What they didn't have was any evidence that the final pieces of their puzzle fit together.
There's just no communication with anybody that we can find or that anybody will tell us that says the Elson's are involved. You can't get from the killing in the driveway to Katie to the Adamson's know.
In an effort to connect the adolescents to the murder plot in late April 2016, investigators decided to put a squeeze on the family in the form of an FBI undercover sting where she could be wearing green, black and white.
With the family member Target, the mother blurted out something incriminating.
We don't believe he's an FBI agent and he is going to approach Donna Arolsen on the street and imply that he is somehow affiliated with Luis Rivera and give her a piece of paper which contains an article about the homicide.
And written on the letter is Five Thousand Dollars and a phone number where supposed to know that all we know is that a problem or. He says something to the effect of you're taking care of Katie and Garcia, but you're not taking care of my boy. He doesn't say the name, but the implication is that it's Rivera who won't be able to go to war over to the troops who will be going through. OK, so this is extortion, a blackmail letter, yes, it's designed to give Donna the impression that she's being blackmailed for five thousand dollars on behalf of Lewis Rivera and the paper they're walking away and it ruffles her feathers.
Yes. And you know that because you're listening to her calls to. Correct? Well, I'm listening to Charlie's calls. She calls Charlie.
She calls Charlie some. That's some paperwork hand delivered, it being so you know, that's what I thought it was. I don't need to talk to you. Does it involve me or other people?
Well, probably not, because it's probably the two of them. You probably have a general idea of what I'm talking about. So let's let's just find some time to talk to each other.
And she doesn't say the craziest thing happened to me today. This guy came out of the blue, gave me this crazy blackmail note. And I don't know what he's talking about. That's not the way the conversation occurs. That's not exactly what she said.
Now, you think someone's trying to blackmail, you know?
Oh, well, that's crazy.
After that cryptic conversation with his mother, Charlie, Adilson called Katie. Hello. Hey, what's going on? Over the next few days, they were in almost constant contact, which, of course, is exactly what investigators were hoping for.
I don't know what's going on, but my mom said that someone approached her on the street, so I called her by name and handed her an envelope with something in it. Yeah. And somebody was she really wouldn't go into detail. I don't I have no idea what it was in reference to something regarding her son, something regarding his ex girlfriend and the person asking my mom for somebody. At times investigators believe they were speaking in code.
Good. Probably about the people you work for. I'm very interested. OK, I well, we definitely need the business. There is no smoking gun.
No one says I know this is exactly how this went down.
Maybe not, but the undercover operation and all those taped phone calls offered investigators a road map.
It shows that all these people are in contact and pretty constant contact. It shows them getting extremely worried as they feel the noose tightening a little bit. And when you listen to these wiretaps, you can hear it. You can hear real fear, especially in Katie's voice.
And whenever they dared speak of the attempted blackmail in person, they seemed to prefer noisy public places.
There's a conversation at a booth and restaurant which was surveilled by law enforcement officers in which conversation has had about how to proceed with dealing with the undercover, obviously.
And that's the conversation is hard to hear. But according to the transcript published in the state's probable cause affidavit, Charlie tells Katie to try to figure out if the man who approached his mom really is a blackmailer and what to do if he is, you better kill him because he's going to be a big problem. If you can't do it, I'll have someone else do it. He used the word we'd have to kill this guy, right? Yeah.
This is not encoded language. No, it's that's what he said. Is that the best evidence you have tying Katie to this family?
It's the best evidence we have tying the Elson's. Yeah.
Into this crime, though the FBI sting produced some intriguing conversations. In the end, it did not produce any evidence of complicity. If the prosecutors were going to prove that there had been a conspiracy to kill Dan MARKELLE, they were going to need more than those surveillance tapes.
But at least for Katie Mack, bonsoir. Prosecutors believe they had a case they could make.
In October 2016, she was arrested and charged with first degree murder.
She pleaded not guilty to setting the stage for a momentous trial for Mack Bunworth and her companion, Sigfried Garcia. And one of the star witnesses would be Wendy Adelson herself.
But first, one of Charlie Wilson's ex-girlfriends takes the stand, she noticed a change in Charlie after the accused killers were arrested. He was nervous and worried and just not himself.
Sigfried Garcia and Katie Magg Bunya had been partners in life and were now alleged partners in crime. Their trial began in Tallahassee in late September of 2000 19, more than five years after Dan Markle's death. After all, Russian prosecutor Georgia Kupperman laid out the evidence for a conspiracy to murder Marquel that had been months in the planning. Up until that fateful July day, Catherine Marianela was hired to solicit Garcia, who in turn solicited Rivera to come to Tallahassee and to execute Mr.
Marquel in cold blood. The state showed the jury the videos of that Preus rented by Luis Rivera, seen on security cameras stalking Dan Marquel and the two men at that ATM in the hours after the murder. And of course, prosecutors had Luis Rivera himself. He had made a deal to turn state's evidence on the stand. Rivera described all the planning that went into the murder, revealing he and Garcia traveled to Tallahassee not just once, but twice. What was the purpose of the first trip?
We came home to cover them up. OK, were you intending to commit the murder on the first trip? I was supposed to, but we a final. But on the second trip, six weeks later, they did find Dan Marquel tailing him to his home. And then, of course, he jumped off the car and went around, went to the driver's side and shot him. He shot Mr. Marquel? Yes, ma'am. How many times?
Twice. Rivera told the jury Garcia personally handed him the cash payout for the hit. All right. So you were told it was thirty five thousand? And did it seem like about that much to you? Yes, ma'am. Where did that money originate? Prosecutors believed it came from the Adelson that family of dentists. But Dan, Markle's in-laws were not to be found in the courtroom and were not charged with any crime. Investigators had prepared a probable cause affidavit implicating brother Charlie Adilson in their theory of the murder.
Still, they did not arrest him. The state didn't feel as though it had enough to prosecute anyone from the family. I always think of the classic Latin phrase cui bono. Who benefited? Well, I think all I'm really able to comment on is whether the folks that I have charged benefited. And I think I can certainly prove that they did. While Charlie Adelson was not on trial, Koppelman didn't hesitate to bring his name into the conversation, beginning with that cash payout Rivera described in interesting detail.
And you said it was all hundreds. Were they separated at all? And his stacks, there was table stapled, a thousand dollars. They were each each one of them. One of Charlie Wilson's ex-girlfriends, June on Shinda took the stand to say she had also seen some unusual packaging of cash at Charlie's house. I did mention that there was a staple on one hand, so I kind of like joked to him about it. In fact, you said that the money was stapled into stacks of hundred dollar bills, didn't you?
And they were hundreds. Yes. And I don't know if they were stacks, but there is a staple on it. Not only were prosecutors seeking to prove Charlie was Katie's paymaster, they pointed to him as the mastermind who set the hit into motion. They called the dentist an unindicted co-conspirators. The prosecutor asked his ex about Charlie's demeanor back when Garcia and Rivera were first arrested. Did you notice a change in his behavior at that time? Well, obviously, they were chasing things back to him.
So he was nervous and worried and just not himself. OK, and was he doing things like sleeping with a gun? And he does. He did. But he he usually does that. As she continued to follow the money, Prosecutor Casselman brought in a banking expert to analyze that series of mysterious cash transactions into Katie's accounts. What does it contain? Mismatched value as Bank of America bank records, including all those checks from the Adelson family for work in an office where she was rarely present?
Sir and Kaplan put on Wendy's ex, Jeff Lukash, to say Wendy told him that brother Charlie was prepared to go nuclear in the Adilson Marquel family feud, that he had taken steps toward hiring a hitman. She said that Charlie had explored all options to take care of the problem and that he had looked into having her mark killed. It would cost about fifteen thousand dollars. And the day that she made the statement to you was July 13th of 2000.
Fourteen. Yes, ma'am. That was less than a week before Dan's murder, Karpman showed the jury video of that FBI sting operation against the Adelson family.
The wiretaps, surveillance of Katie, Charlie and his mother afterwards, you know, sounds like a conflict that you an investigator if someone's playing games.
They said my name and your name is getting too detailed to the prosecutors.
It was all clear cut, a well orchestrated conspiracy. But since the Elson's were not charged with any crime, would the jury believe the prosecution's theory? It would all come down to the testimony of two bombshell witnesses, the two women at the center of the case, Dan, Markle's ex-wife, Wendy, and her brother, Charlie's ex-girlfriend, Katie McMonagle.
Coming up, Katie and Wendy, what was their bond? You know where I think that South Beach is Katie about to throw Charlie under the bus based on everything you've seen, do you think Charlie was involved in it? Yes, when Dateline continues.
The prosecution's case had been building to this moment for days. Jurors were finally going to hear from one of those adolescents. They'd heard so much about five years after that tearful interview with police. Dan, Markle's ex-wife had returned to Tallahassee from South Florida, where she now live with her two boys.
My name is Wendy Adilson.
Wendy had been cleared as a suspect early on in the investigation, but prosecutors wanted to hear from her, so she was given immunity to testify. Her statements on the stand couldn't be used against her.
Were you involved in any way in a plot to kill Dan markelle?
No. The prosecutor probed Wendy about her marriage and messy divorce from Dan.
Would you consider your divorce with Mr. Marquel to be a nasty divorce? I think most divorces aren't very pleasant. OK, but this one was, like, really unpleasant, right? I found getting divorced to be unpleasant. Yes.
So unpleasant that she even had an odd nickname for him during their bitter arguments.
GIBBERS GIBBERS was a nickname that I gave Danny when he was being really difficult and causing me a lot of pain, was sort of a nickname I gave him to make him feel less threatening.
Wendy told the jury she had never met Fredo Garcia, but she had met Katie. The state showed the jury this photo of the two of them on the beach together in June 2014, just one month before Diane's murder.
You know where the. And I think that South Beach close to where your parents were. Yes. So how would you know I she was dating my brother on the stand. Wendy was measured in her answers.
Is it fair to say that your parents are very protective of you? I think that's fair to say. Is it fair to say that your brother is very protective of you? I think that's fair to say.
Even under aggressive cross-examination by defense lawyers, that top of her class attorney, Wendy, remained unflappable.
Now, do you know who killed then, Marco? No. Did your brother have anything to do with killing that, Marco? I don't believe so.
When she was asked about her brother Charlie's comments about hiring a hitman, something she'd first brought up when questioned by police when Wendy had a ready answer.
Did he ever joke about how he looked into hiring a hitman? But buying you a TV as a divorce present would be cheaper? He did make that joke. He tended to repeat himself and sometimes he would make jokes that weren't very funny about all kinds of things when it was time to make their case.
Defense lawyers for Katie make bonsoir and Fredo Garcia at first ignored Wendy and the rest of the Adelson family and instead focused on the prosecution's star witness, Luis Rivera. Garcia's lawyer, Sam Zangeneh, told jurors Rivera was a lying snitch who flipped to save his own skin.
The only person who can tell you it's a great Garcia got out of the car, reportedly shot Dan. Marco is who the guy who got the deal of L.A. Rivera story doesn't really add up to me.
He rented the car. It was his firearm that was used to murder Dan Marquel.
So he Rivera, who's already taken this deal, says that the gun is in the hand of your guy, correct, Garcia? And that's the only person that says that that's a bad story to hear in court and testimony. Well, it's a bad person telling a bad story.
Rivera's back story became a recurrent theme for the defense, that the prosecution's case hinged on the word of a lowlife gang banger.
Did you sell drugs? Yes, sir. Have you ever committed an armed robbery? Yes, sir.
Tarika was one of McGibbon was lawyers pushed Rivera about his motivation for testifying.
The state was seeking the death penalty against you? Correct? Yes, ma'am. They were trying to kill you, right.
During cross-examination, Kawase questioned Rivera's veracity and memory.
Fredo Garcia told you that he got the money from the lady and he never said her name. That's what she said on 10 four, right? I don't remember don't remember Krista cost another Magg bonsoir attorney attacked the state's case by suggesting Rivera was simply parroting whatever the cops fed him.
You have no way of knowing whether Louis Rivera was just regurgitating. What you had written in your reports. As to what you thought the theory of the case was right? I have no way of knowing what he had access to before the defense implied that media coverage may have somehow tainted the investigation.
You yourself, you appeared on Dateline, right? I did. In those media appearances, the theory of the case was laid out. Right. Part of it, yes. Now, your Dateline interview, that was after Micmac Banro was arrested. Right.
If you remember, I honestly don't recall.
Attorney Kawase offer jurors a simple explanation for her clients misfortune for a major downfall is her taste in them.
And at the end of this case, you are going to see that the only thing she is guilty of is having horrible taste in men make.
Bonwit had been both sick, Fredo Garcia's common law wife and Charlie Wilson's lover. That Adilson connection was why Mack Barnwell was sitting at the defense table, according to her lawyer. Prosecutorial desperation.
The prosecution's relentless obsession with arresting the Avildsen family has led to this day, this moment in this courtroom where an innocent person is being killed, accused of a crime that she did not commit.
Both defendants were offered an opportunity to testify on their own behalf. Sigfried or Garcia passed. But in a bold, perhaps risky legal maneuver, Katie Mack Bonwit took the stand in her own defense right after she was sworn in. Her lawyer cut to the chase.
Did you have anything to do with the murder of Danmark? How? No, man. Did you get the father of your children, Mr. Garcia, to commit a murder on behalf of Mr. Charlie, 8:00 a.m. Mike Bunworth said she had thrown Garcia out of their home because he'd been unfaithful shortly before she got involved with Charlie Adilson.
But it was complicated.
Now, were you in a sexual relationship with Mr. Alexander? Yes, ma'am. But you are not exclusive with him? No, no. I know this is going to be a little uncomfortable. Why are you still having a sexual relationship with Mr. Garcia? Yes, ma'am.
Her lawyer walked her through some of the state's most damning allegations, including the charge that the adolescents had given her thousands of dollars. Katie said no. She supported herself. She said she worked as a battle girl promoting liquor brands at bars and restaurants. As she told it, tips were good.
It's expected you to dress provocatively with probably a little closer's is allowed. Yes, ma'am. An average night because we've heard a lot of testimony about how much money you made, what is what was a good night for you at the club, a good night for me.
I can walk out of there with a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars.
She testified that those tips, plus cash from Garcia and her mother provided her disposable income, not blood money from the Andersons. And as for that expensive breast augmentation surgery, Katie had an explanation for that, too, one that contradicted the state's theory and didn't involve Charlie Eidelson.
Who paid for your breast implants, I think. All right. How did you pay for your breast implants or for my cash tips?
Clearly, her lawyers wanted jurors to follow the money. They gave her the opportunity to deny being the cash conduit between Charlie, Adilson and the alleged killers.
Was there ever a time that you picked up money from Mr. Anderson's house that was stapled? No. And that you then delivered back to Mr. Garcia or delivered it to Mr. Rivera?
All along, the state had hoped Katie would turn and reveal other figures as the real masterminds of the murder.
You saw a news report where they said that you hold the key to your own freedom, that OK, what did that mean to you? That you know, that it's up to me to get out of jail? OK, and how would you do that if I gave up Charlie?
Might you use her testimony to point the finger at Charlie? Not exactly.
Do you have information that Charlie Edelsten was involved in this? Do I have information? I mean, based on everything that we've been seeing, but I don't have personal information based on everything you've seen. Do you think Charlie was involved in it? Yes. Do you think Charlie was lying to. Yes. Podcast or Matthew share maybe.
I think the inference maybe we're supposed to take from her testimony is that she was a pawn and an unwitting pawn in some way. But she keeps it up from her arrest through her testimony at the trial. She does not crack. It's not a it's not an instance where she breaks under. Sharon says, I know what happened, the defense team stood by the essence of its case, the two people on trial were innocent dupes of the rich and powerful adolescents who were strolling around South Florida free as birds.
Catherine was just a pawn in Charlie Edelsten plan to kill Danakil. And now the prosecution is trying to use Catherine as a pawn to get to Charlie Eggleton.
The defendants would soon learn if the jury saw it that way. Coming up, poor Garcia, it could be up to and including the death penalty for Katie, it could be a mandatory life sentence. The stakes couldn't be higher for the defendants and Dan's family.
We really missed Dan's children. Our hearts are open to them. Our doors are open to them. It had been more than five years since Dan MARKELLE was shot in his driveway in one of the most cold blooded killings Tallahassee, Florida, had ever seen. Now, Judgment Day had arrived for the couple on trial for murder, Sigfried Garcia for pulling the trigger and Katie Mike Banwell for setting it up upon conviction. What are the consequences here? What are the penalties for Garcia?
It could be up to and including the death penalty for Katie. It could be a mandatory life sentence if she's convicted as charged prosecutor Koppelman summed up the state's case.
All the planning, all the meetings, all the calls came to fruition when Garcia fired those two shots into Mr. Martels vehicle and devastated so many lives.
In an instant, the defendant's attorneys made their final arguments and ask yourselves, do I feel comfortable convicting Socrata Garcia of a murder based on the evidence? There's only one reason why a single mother of two young children. Would sit in custody for three years in confinement, risking it all, she's innocent.
Then, after 11 days of testimony for more than 40 witnesses, the jury headed to deliberate the complex case against these two jurors in the courtroom.
After 10 hours, they came back with a verdict.
But for just one defendant, the state of Florida versus Accredo Garcia, we the jury find as follows this one, the defendant is guilty of first degree murder. We, the jury, find its policies to count to the defendant is guilty of conspiracy to commit first degree murder.
As Garcia sat stone faced, Katie, the mother of his two children, began to sob, and what would happen to Katie? The jurors had it back into their deliberation room and shortly returned. They could not reach a verdict.
As to Mr. Magliano, I will declare this case mistrial.
Outside court, prosecutor Jorja Koppelman took a sort of half victory lap and vowed to try Katie again.
So what's your reaction to that jury? I'm disappointed. I mean, it was a lot of work to have to start over, but there could be worse resolutions than that. So what's next for you? Regroup and try to do it better next time.
Give us a little play by play some. After the reading of the verdict, the bailiffs are moving in to remove Garcia out of the courtroom. What happened then?
He gave me a hug and he thanked me. And then he told me and he looked at Katie and he goes, Tell her I love her and tell her to keep her head up.
How did Katie end up having such a good night? I mean, let me tell you, she dodged a bullet. You know, she was Neo in The Matrix. She she she started.
She did. She and her attorneys do that. They put her on the stand and her testimony swayed one, two or three, maybe nine.
Ten, who knows? I think two or three of the jurors.
In this long criminal saga, we've seen two convictions for Sigfried Garcia and Luis Rivera, one mistrial for Katie Mack Banwell, her retrial is pending. But what about that family of dentists, the Wilsons ex-wife, Wendy, her parents and brother Charlie? To date, prosecutors have not charged them with any crime. After trial, Charlie Wilson's attorney gave a statement the prosecution couldn't prove its theory on Katie after three years of really thorough investigation and preparation.
This is why they have not charged Charlie and his family. The case simply isn't there. And Wendy's attorney wrote the evidence at trial shows beyond any doubt that Wendy had no connection to these tragic events, according to a statement released by the Elson's attorneys in August 2016. Nothing has turned up that supports this fanciful fiction that the Wilsons were involved. There is a reason that the police have not arrested any of the Wilsons. They weren't involved in Dan's death. We share in the hope that those responsible will be brought to justice.
On October 14th, 2019, Garcia was sentenced to life in prison. The jury rejected the death penalty at the hearing. Dan Markle's mom, Ruth, read a victim impact statement.
His murder has been horrible for us. Shocking, surreal, hard to understand. Danny is never coming back. But we continue to hope and pray for justice.
After nearly six years, Ruth and Phil Markle say they are also hoping and praying for something else to see their grandchildren.
We really miss Dan's children. Our hearts are open to them. Our doors are open to them.
Dan sons are now 10 and 11 years old. They continue to live with their mother and are in the frequent care of her parents. Phil and Ruth say they haven't seen the boys in more than four years. They told us back in 2013 what they believe happened. There was a decision made by their mother that we're not to be visiting anymore, so that was the last visit. Yeah, very hard. It's impossible. I can't go even to the cemetery and face daddy with this reality.
One year after Dan's murder. Wendy changed the two boys last names from Marquel to Adilson.
She said she did it to protect her sons from media reports and for their own security. The Marquel say it's as though their murdered son is being erased from his children's lives.
You lost your son and now you've lost your children, the little ones, to if someday, Mrs. Marquel, they find this interview. Yeah, I was talking about. Yeah. What do you want them to know about their father? Speak to them directly?
I, I would like them to know that their father loved them with no way to infinity. I would like them to know that their father wanted them to have roots names. You can change but DNA doesn't change. We'll never get back our son. But we really pray that we can have the communications and the contacts and the love and the caring of our two grandsons that we dearly, dearly miss.
And that's all for this edition of Dateline. We'll see you again tomorrow at 10:00, 9:00 Central. I'm Lester Holt. For all of us at NBC News, good night.
The Meet the Press Chuck Todd cast. It's an insider's take on politics, the 2020 election and more candid conversations with some of my favorite reporters about things we usually discuss off camera. Listen for free wherever you get your podcast.