tv 2020 ABC September 16, 2016 9:01pm-10:00pm MST
tonight, on an all-new "20/20," that major american university, fsu. famous for football, now famous for a brazen murder. >> the mysterious professor. >> gunned down in his garage. tonight, "20/20," right there as the case reaches a major new turning point. >> there was definitely a sense like no one was going to catch these guys. >> video of a mysterious green pri prius hunting the victim. police tapes of his ex-wife in a bitter divorce.
in-laws -- >> said it was cheaper to get you this tv. >> they hated danny. >> tonight, the investigation connecting lowlife hoods, high-life dentists and the hidden camera sting, never before seen. >> you scared me. dispute? >> if this was a coen brothers movie, that would be a good plot. >> in-laws and outlaws. >> good evening. i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. right here, what police say could be a game-changer in a shocking murder investigation. the gunning down of a father and prominent fsu professor. a murder as twisted as anything
criminal law classes. >> now, the clock ticking for police to close the net over possible suspects. the new surveillance video, and our confrontation with a suspect. here's matt gutman. >> reporter: the last morning of professor dan markel's life is a glorious sunshine state friday. at about 9:00 a.m. he leaves his tallahassee home trees dripping with spanish moss with his two kids in the backseat of his honda accord. >> takes his children, two young boys, to the creative preschool on tharpe street, drops them off. he drives about another 15 minutes to premiere gym, sort of on the north side of town. >> reporter: 11:00 a.m. after his workout, markel drives back home and is heading up the driveway, when his cell phone rings. markel starts a conversation, one he will never finish.
someone unfamiliar in my driveway." and as the man is on the phone, he hears a muffled sound, a grunt, and he never hears dan markel again. >> reporter: somebody had walked up to markel and shot him twice in the head. >> this was something really strange and was going to be a really big story. >> reporter: if markel's life flashed before his eyes on that hot florida morning, it might have looked something like this. the precocious son of a prominent toronto family, markel earned degrees cambridge before landing a job as a criminal law professor at florida state university. >> he was extraordinary. he was a gifted young man, gifted. >> reporter: donald weidner, former dean of the fsu law school, says the intense and driven markel was a superstar, a renowned scholar who commanded attention at prestigious legal seminars around the country.
distinct. >> reporter: in the classroom, markel was regarded as a tough but fair taskmaster. >> dan was demanding of himself and others. he was always exhorting people to do their best, to think independently, to think critically. >> reporter: markel also found success on the domestic front when he met a university of miami law student seven years his junior named wendi adelson. adelson was raised among the soaring palm trees and beaches of sunny south florida. her well-heeled family operated a lucrative dentistry clinic named the adelson institute near ft. lauderdale, where father harvey and brother charlie handled the drilling and filling, and her mother donna coordinated patient care. attorney michael weinstein has known the family since childhood. >> harvey opened up his dental
tamarac, florida, and he has been a pillar of the dental community, doing a great job for patients for the past 40 years. >> reporter: tell me about wendi. what is she like? >> wendi has -- is an incredibly bright, incredibly intelligent individual. >> reporter: while wendi adelson was a serious and committed law student, her best friend tova walsh says she was more free-spirited and quirky than her straight-laced boyfriend, once appearing on that old quiz show "the weakest link." >> when i was little be a giraffe. >> is there anything else you dreamed of? >> well, i was in the circus for a while. i was a contortionist. >> wendi is just, you know, fun and full of joy. she's a lovely person who has just boundless enthusiasm and energy and sense of humor. >> reporter: after a whirlwind courtship, markel and adelson announced their february, 2006, wedding in the new york times.
this synagogue in boca raton, florida, for the ceremony. >> it was a beautiful and very elegant affair. wendi looked gorgeous. dan's friends and wendi's friends were all there and celebrating with them. >> reporter: the newlyweds settled in tallahassee, where wendi also got a job at fsu as a clinical law professor, specializing in human trafficking issues. >> we had two previous clinics, and this was the third one coming onboard. >> she did a great job, very poised, capable, professional, competent, articule. >> reporter: life seemed blessed for the two lawyers in love, especially after the arrival of two children. to their many friends in the tallahassee area, like alex and mya greenberg, it seemed like dan and wendi had it all. >> we went to dinner once at their house, and we left kind of going, like, almost feeling inadequate -- >> -- because they were dancing and singing and happy. and they're just very affectionate. >> i mean, they called each other the bears. >> mr. bear was danny, and mrs. bear was wendi, and that
>> reporter: despite the lovey-dovey front, it turns out wendi's passion for papa bear dan had long gone into hibernation. in this podcast she later recorded, wendi laid bare her feelings for her overachieving husband. >> i thought i could cheat the system and marry a man i lacked passionate love for. our marriage dissolved after the children arrived. as the loneliness of being married to someone who didn't view me as an equal crept in. >> reporter: despite her own pr that dan was constantly belittling her achievements, refusing to even read her passion project, a novel she wrote. >> i mean, he didn't like fiction, so why read my novel? it was logic. not a lack of love. >> reporter: then in september, 2012, after a business trip, markel returns to tallahassee to find a most extreme home makeover. much of the furniture and belongings, gone.
one of the few things wendi did leave behind -- a crib mattress on the floor, with divorce papers on top. new york law professor ethan leib was a close friend of markel. >> this was quite stunning to him. even in his wildest imagination, he doesn't think that this is going to happen and he doesn't think this is going to happen this quickly. >> reporter: dan tried to reconcile with wendi, but then the former contortionist added this new twist -- a motion to move the kids 450 miles away to her parents' home in south florida. >> that was a turning point. i think that flipped a switch, 'cause then he felt like, okay, you know, i need to fight for me now. i think he went from, at that point, frustration to a little bit angry. >> reporter: dan successfully fought the relocation, but now, the gloves were off. in colorfully worded briefs he attacked wendi for the "pearl
marital home." then in march, 2014, markel launched an offensive on another front -- the mother-in-law. in court papers, he demanded that donna, wendi's mom, stop having unsupervised visits with his kids after they told him, "grandma says you're stupid" and "grandma says she hates you." yet in this emotional wasteland, new romance found room to bloom. wendi started dating a fellow fsu professor named jeffrey lacasse. eagle to be his romantic co-counsel, a prominent new york law professor. >> and i said, "you have a girlfriend now, you're having fun in life again, you're smiling a lot. you have to start celebrating those things and walk away from this negativity." and he walked away from that conversation saying, "you're right." >> reporter: but on july 18th, right after his morning workout on that beautiful summer day,
his next door neighbor calls 911. >> his driver's side window is shattered and he's spattered and can't answer. he's inside the car, the car is running, and he's got blood all over his head. he's not responding to me. >> reporter: when we come back, markel's ex-wife is the first person police bring in. she's all tears -- >> oh, my god! >> reporter: -- and fears. >> so i understand why i would be the person you would think would do something. >> reporter: when "20/20" returns. the moments that connect us don't happen overnight. they happen one morning at a time, and one cup at a time. folgers, the best part of wakin' up. get to kohl's - starting thursday... and get $10 off
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murdered, execution style. >> shot and killed inside his home. >> reporter: even by florida standards, the shooting of law professor dan markel is a shocker. a brazen assassination that has residents of his prosperous tallahassee neighborhood quaking in their tasseled loafers. >> it's absolutely not the kind of neighborhood where you would ever see something like this happening on 11:00 a.m. on a friday morning. >> reporter: the scene on trescott drive, grisly. breathing, but barely alive. >> so far, there are no good leads. >> it seemed like this broad daylight shooting, and whoever had done it was gone. >> reporter: markel is rushed to a local hospital. the cops soon locate ex-wife wendi adelson, who was still living in tallahassee. they take her into this interview room, where they tell her what's happened. >> there was a shooting at your
daniel, all right, has been taken to the hospital. he's not going to survive. >> oh, my god. >> okay? [ crying ] >> what happened? >> reporter: as the initial shock subsides, her thoughts turn to their children. >> it really scares me because it means there's someone out there that's willing to do this to him and i'm scared for the kids. >> reporter: maybe she should be scared for herself. cops take a hard look at her. as a possible suspect. she is the ex-wife after all. snapping a photo, swabbing her hands for evidence of gunshot residue, taking her cell phone. turning her minivan inside out.
of grief, but i would never do something like this. >> and -- >> so i understand why. >> okay. >> i would be the person you would think do something but -- >> well, we have to work just as hard to eliminate people. >> it's fine. >> reporter: adelson tells police she was at home in the morning waiting for a tv repairman, then went out to buy a bottle of booze for a party. after that, she met some friends for lunch. police, meanwhile, find no evidence of a break-in at the markel home. somebody, for some reason, wanted dan markel dead. but who? right after the shooting, police didn't have much to go on. but they did get one lead. the neighbor who called 911 from that house told them that he saw a light-colored car that looked like a prius back out of the driveway and head down the road. >> you said there was another vehicle that you saw driving away? >> yes.
it looked sort of like a prius. >> reporter: tallahassee police quickly begin a door-to-door search for any sign of the car on security cams. five days later they get a hit, releasing this grainy photo of a prius. >> now in tallahassee, you know, a prius and subarus are a dime a dozen, so -- i mean, there are an awful lot of priuses around here. >> reporter: while investigators hunt for that eco-friendly vehicle of interest, they are also digging into every aspect of markel's life. >> we thought maybe it have been a disgruntled former student, it could have been someone who disagreed with his ideas. >> reporter: nervous faculty at fsu wonder, could his death be tied to the campus? >> they just thought, my god, this happened to one of us. and another one of us might be next. i walked out of my office late one sunday, next to me was a metallic green toyota prius, and i confess, that sent a shiver up my spine.
pronounced dead. the devastating news spreads quickly. >> i shot up from bed, i was shocked, devastated. >> i literally could not comprehend that that had happened to him. >> reporter: his many friends and family gather to grieve the loss of this young father and brilliant legal scholar. >> because dan directly touched so many people, it was extremely painful. >> do you know anybody that would have a beef against your ex-husband? >> reporter: back at police headquarters on the day of the shooting, it seemed wendi adelson was off the hook. and she and the investigator are engaged in talk of whodunnit. >> who would do this? >> i don't know, that's why you're here and that's why we're talking. >> reporter: she proceeded to tell police about that fsu
lately had had a falling out with. >> he didn't like danny because danny hurt me. >> reporter: she says lacasse, who you might notice bears a striking likeness to markel, was no fan of her ex. >> i see why he's a good suspect. like, what if it is jeff? like, then i did this by asking for time away from him, i made him crazy. >> reporter: two nights later, police ask lacasse to come down to the station. >> your name did come up. >> of course. >> because you were associated at some point with wendi. >> of course. >> reporter: without hesitation the professor pr affection for his former flame. >> i was in love with this girl, so it was hard. she really has this charisma and this sexuality, and so you throw yourself in front of a bus for this girl. >> and you have never had any kind of physical contact with danny? >> no. i was surprised you guys didn't call me earlier though because i probably said 100 times in public that i would like to kick his ass for really making wendi suffer.
[ bleep ]. i would never do anything like that, no, no. >> he tells cops he was hundreds of miles away at the time of the murder. >> i stayed at a really crappy days inn 20 miles south of atlanta. >> reporter: lacasse's story checks out. but he's not done talking. in fact, far from it. >> i have something i want to tell you, but i'm concerned about my safety with what i'm going to tell you. danny markel just got [ bleep ] killed and i don't want to be next. i'm sorry if that sounds paranoid, but i do have some ideas. >> reporter: over the course of three lengthy interviews, he paints a portrait of profound adelson family dysfunction. >> the whole family is real weird. something's up with this family. >> reporter: he tells police they should focus not on wendi but on her parents and her brother charlie, who run the family dentistry business in south florida. and had come to think of dan markel as a stubborn obstacle to wendi's happiness. >> the family desperately wants her back in south florida. mother, father and she has a
they hate danny in a way. i have never seen this kind of obsession. i mean, their hobby is hating danny. i would just say, i would be investigating charlie adelson. i don't know if he did this, but if you are looking at somebody, don't miss him. >> reporter: soon police discover lacasse isn't the only one raising concerns about wendi's family. >> they hated danny. >> they hate danny. >> reporter: markel's friends alex and mya greenberg tell with his in-laws. >> i think they were mean. to do some of the stuff they did during this divorce with danny was not reasonable. >> reporter: even wendi adelson herself acknowledges her parents' hatred for markel. >> my parents have more reason to dislike danny than almost anyone else. he hurt their daughter, they're very angry with him. but even my family who felt like i had been mistreated would never do something like this.
>> reporter: and for all the talk of wendi's family, they were nowhere near tallahassee on the day of markel's murder. the cops are laser focused on tracking down that mysterious green hybrid, and for many months the case goes cold. >> all that we knew was that he had been shot in his garage, that there was a prius-like vehicle that was seen leaving the scene, and that was it. >> reporter: coming up, something as banal as a toll transponder of all things will lead police hundreds of miles away. far from the fsu quad to the bloody streets of gangland miami. the hunt for the killers, when "20/20" returns. before i had the shooting, burning, pins-and-needles of diabetic nerve pain, these feet... tapped into dance as a kid... raised a child who never stood still... and opened a dance studio. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer.
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class. >> ten months ago someone killed the father of my children. >> reporter: listen to this podcast recorded for the class as wendi, in a deadpan delivery, first describes the demise of her marriage and then her ex. >> first we got divorced then he got murdered. in casual conversations i don't know whether to call him my ex-late spouse or my late ex-spouse. except that late ex-spouse sounds like latex spouse. >> reporter: wendi may be talking about dan markel's death but his grieving parents have never spoken publicly. they asked their attorney, orin snyder, to talk to "20/20" on their behalf. >> how important is it for them for authorities to find markel's killer? >> well, i would say it's impossible for them to move on until the killers and all those responsible for this brutal murder are held accountable. >> reporter: with the markels fully behind them, the police
efforts to get more information on that green prius that a neighbor saw leaving the scene of the crime. police have already looked at every security camera in the area but then, an enterprising investigator decides to check out the cameras installed on the city buses. bingo! they find this video of what they believe is the suspected green prius. although you can't see the driver or read the license plate, police do have one tiny clue -- seen in the windshield of the prius is a toll transponder. it's a strong indication that the killers weren't from tallahassee because there are so few toll roads surrounding the city. police then pull the toll records for all of the priuses heading into the tallahassee area around the time of the murder. >> when police pulled those toll records, it led them here, to this hole in the wall rental agency here in miami that rents
now, inside, a contract was signed, leading police to the men who rented that green prius. here's the "eureka" moment, the rental agreement. it shows the prius was rented by a man named luis rivera. using the listed cell phone number, police are quickly able to confirm rivera's identity and it turns out he is very well known to authorities. police say rivera is a leader in the notorious latin kings gang. >> the latin king organization are a very serious threat to the community. they have been known for armed robberies, homicides, home invasions, carjackings. >> reporter: this undercover detective with the broward county sheriff's office has to keep his identity disguised. >> this is a very tough neighborhood. as you can see, it's one way in, and one way out. >> reporter: he took us into the heart of rivera's stomping grounds, where he was known by the moniker "king tato." >> he was the first crown, which is the leader for the north miami beach chapter of the latin kings. of course, he would be the main one giving the orders out and knowing exactly what was going on. >> reporter: and there's another
a man identified as rivera's "brother." the listed cell phone tracks back to this man, sigfredo garcia, of north miami. garcia is no gangbanger, but he is a childhood friend of rivera's who has also had numerous run-ins with the law. having both men's cell phone numbers is like hitting the jackpot for investigators. every ping on a cell phone tower, every call, every text, yields a play by play of their movements. and police say that data showed that in july, 2014, garcia and rivera set out on a fateful road trip from miami to tallahassee in that prius. wednesday, july 16th, 2014, cell phone records show the prius heading up 1-75 on the seven-hour drive towards tallahassee. they hit tallahassee after midnight and check into this
friday morning, july 18th, cell phone tower records place garcia and rivera here, in the vicinity of the premier health and fitness center. surveillance cameras capture dan markel arriving at the fitness center in his black honda. now watch as this prius enters the parking lot. the cops say it's the same one rented by garcia and rivera. markel is then seen entering the center. meanwhile, outside, cameras show the prius suspiciously moving around to different parking spots. later, markel is seen driving away from the center. watch closely as that same prius follows him out. 10:44 a.m., this city bus camera captures markel's honda as he drives home. seconds later, we see his unwelcome shadow, that green prius. markel is shot in his driveway around 11 a.m. police say that shortly after
the prius driving the opposite direction, away from the house. later that same night, garcia and rivera are back in miami. spotted on a security cam in that prius withdrawing money at this atm. >> there is a sense about this case that they're not really trying that hard to cover their tracks. they're just going about business pretty openly. >> reporter: convinced they have their suspects nailed dead to rights, police charge rivera and garcia for dan markel's murder. >> one of the men accused of killing fsu law professor dan markel is now behind bars. >> reporter: so what are two miami criminals doing up here, 400 miles away, allegedly murdering a law professor? it didn't seem to make sense, did it? >> no, it didn't. so what is the connection? there has got to be a connection between dan markel and these two guys. what is that connection? >> reporter: well, perhaps that connection isn't a what.
at the center of a web stretching from gangland miami to the lecture hall to a luxury dental clinic? and did someone give her an eye-opening payoff to help orchestrate murder? was plastic surgery breast augmentation part of her compensation? when "20/20" returns. ? take on any road with intuitive all-wheel drive. the nissan rogue, murano and pathfinder. now get 0% apr for 72 months, plus $500 bonus cash. there's nothing like trying something new. especially when it comes to snacking. that's why we're introducing cheese dippers. the creamy cheese and crunchy breadsticks
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>> reporter: two years after the cold-blooded killing of dan markel, finally, a huge step forward in his case. two south florida men, sigfredo garcia and luis rivera are charged with markel's murder. both have pleaded not guilty. it's a dramatic breakthrough in the case to be sure, but anchor abbey maurer of abc 27 news says there's still a huge unanswered question. >> sigfredo garcia and luis rivera, down in miami, what do they have to do with tallahassee? what do they have to do with dan markel? what is the relationship between them? >> reporter: answer^-- none. police can imagine only one motive for these two known felons to whack a noted law professor. money. >> we can provide additional information regarding this investigation.
finally say they've cracked the mystery. in a stunning twist, police say they've linked the two alleged killers to none other than wendi adelson's family, who run that successful dental clinic. and it just so happens that someone who's on the family payroll is linked to the accused killers. it's this woman, katherine magbanua. now get this, she's the mother of garcia's two children. and police discover that she is dating charlie adelson, wendi's brother. >> well, it's a heck of a coincidence. >> reporter: it is a heck of a coincidence. state prosecutor georgia cappelman says investigators believe the plot was hatched because the adelsons were desperate for wendi and the kids to move down to south florida. and dan, and his legal briefs, were standing in the way. >> the working theory of the case is that the reason for this homicide was due to the bitter divorce that was ongoing.
a divorce dispute? >> i mean, what's a good reason to commit murder? >> who killed dan markel? >> reporter: needless to say, the news of the adelsons' suspected involvement rips through tallahassee like a hurricane. what was the reaction? >> completely shocked, and the possibility of the adelson family being connected to this, that just blew everybody's mind. how is this possible? how is this kind of case, this kind of crime, town? >> the family had no involvement whatsoever. >> reporter: so far, none of the adelsons have been charged with a crime. and down in south florida, charlie's attorney, michael weinstein, scoffs at the very notion that his buddy could be behind markel's murder. >> he's an really easygoing, laid-back, have a beer, relax kind of guy. >> reporter: did charlie adelson have anything to do with markel's murder? >> no. he is being looked at because of the fact that he had a dating relationship with katherine.
say that there is not a connection, because katherine worked at the adelson institute. however, there is no evidence that he solicited any type of murder. none. >> reporter: but there is an almost uncanny connection that the people who were there right at the time of the murder, in a car that sure looks like the car that was seen leaving the crime scene is traced back to a man named garcia, who is the baby daddy of his current girlfriend at the time. coen brothers movie, that would be an unbelievable plot. but we don't live in a coen brothers movie. and as i sit here today, i haven't seen one scintilla of evidence of any money changing hands. >> reporter: but police say they have. an affidavit released just last week asserts that magbanua made cash deposits of about $44,000 after markel's murder. police say she then started receiving paychecks from
wendi's mother, donna, totaling another $13,000. was that payroll or a payoff? police say the two accused hitmen, garcia and rivera seemed to be spending big-time right after markel's murder. >> then they both made some cash purchases of some vehicles, motorcycles and that kind of thing after the homicide. >> reporter: saam zangenah is garcia's attorney. where did he get the money to buy the toys that he allegedly bought because he got money from murder? >> well, i don't think he got it from c i'll tell you that. >> reporter: where'd he get it from? >> i don't know. i'm saying, there's a lot of money moving in south florida. and, you know, money floats. to single out sigfredo garcia and say, "how, where did he get all this money?" i mean, just like everybody else. and not everybody else is accused of being a contract killer. >> reporter: but prosecutors allege there was one other big-ticket item that was
suburb of miami, inside this office. it belongs to dr. leonard roudner, voted miami's best plastic surgeon. his specialty, breast enhancement. he's performed over 20,000 of them, and even calls himself "dr. boobner." police say a confidential witness told them that magbanua got a pricey breast job from the good doctor just three months after markel's murder, and that charlie adelson allegedly picked up half of the $6,000 to $7,000 tab. magbanua declined to talk to "20/20." was plastic surgery, breast augmentation part of her compensation for hooking adelson up with garcia? >> think about what -- what they're trying to say here. do you think my client would want the mother of his children, the woman that he loves, to get breast augmentation? from charlie adelson? and then have charlie adelson enjoy the fruits of that labor? i mean, come on. >> reporter: between the accusations of a breast job
image of prius-driving hit men, prosecutor cappleman says this sounds like a murder plot concocted in hollywood. it sounds outlandish. >> sounds like good tv. >> reporter: you might think so, too. so stay tuned, because the cops are about to produce some must-see video of their own starring the mother-in-law. going undercover, beard and all, to try build to a case against the adelson family. >> excuse me, mrs. adelson? how you doing? i just want to give you this. ? ? one smart choice leads to the next. ? the new 2017 ford fusion is here. it's the beauty of a well-made choice.
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ng out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever... you gotta see this guy. ahh, i don't know what i said, ahh. "i
don't remember." he's going like "i don't remember!? "20/20" continues with more of in-laws and outlaws. >> reporter: rewind. go back to the july afternoon when dan markel was gunned down in his garage. you'll recall that his ex-wife,
the local cop shop that day for the grim news. >> i'm sorry. i don't know who would do this. danny didn't treat me very well, and i'm so scared that maybe someone did this, not because they hate danny, but because they thought this was good somehow. >> okay, do you think someone would do this for your benefit without asking you? >> no. >> reporter: but that question gets wendi thinking. about who? big brother, charlie, and the eye-opening comments he'd been making after h listen to this. >> it was always his joke, he said, i, i, you know, i looked into hiring a hitman. it was cheaper to get you this tv. it was my divorce present. >> okay. >> such a horrible thing to say. >> do you think that this guy
even be capable of doing something like this? >> no. it's just talk? >> he's a joker. >> reporter: but wendi related the story to her boyfriend, jeffrey lacasse, he says there was nothing funny about it. remember he planted the seed, telling police how much the adelson's hated markel. here's how he remembered it. >> she told me that charlie had looked into having danny killed in the summer of 2013. she meant it. dead serious. he said it would cost about $15,000. >> $15,000? >> yes, sir. that's correct. >> reporter: has wendi ever even hinted that she suspected one of the family members? >> no, i mean, she's never indicated to me any suspicion that her family members were connected. >> reporter: tova walsh is wendi's best friend. >> and, you know, she, like you, like me, sees the coincidence and is horrified by it but is not, you know, it's something that she can't imagine could be the case. >> reporter: but the cops sure did, setting up an elaborate scheme with the goal of rattling the adelsons. this is a rare inside look at a sting operation. the target, wendi adelson's
suspect could have been in on a plot to kill markel. this exclusive video shows her on the street in miami beach, completely unaware of what is about to occur. >> excuse me. mrs. adelson? >> reporter: that bearded man, comes face-to-face with donna. he's actually an undercover agent wearing a body camera. >> who are you? you're scaring me. >> no, don't be scared. >> reporter: delivering a veiled threat. he's posing as the brother of luis rivera, one of the alleged hitmen. he's pressing donna for payment for services rendered. >> i want to let you know that my brother, he helped your family with this problem you guys had up north. he's going through some rough times and i want to make sure that you take care of what he's going through. >> reporter: donna's response is barely audible. >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> well, this will explain it. thank you. >> she has the paper. they're walking away. >> reporter: the bait is set. inside that envelope, police
number, and a demand for $5,000. but was donna hooked? >> u.c. broke contact. she's heading away. she's crossing the street. >> reporter: to sigfredo garcia's attorney, the video proves only that the investigation has become a fishing expedition. why would they do something like this? >> because they want to catch lightning in a bottle. >> reporter: but police say the ruse works, the sidewalk squeeze sets off a flurry of jittery phone calls and conversations between the adelsons, magbanua, and alleged hitman sigfredo garcia. all secretly recorded by law enforcement. they discuss paying the money, but never do. according to police documents, charlie considered something else, getting the mysterious messenger out of the picture, permanently. allegedly telling katherine, "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." will all this be enough for police to finally pin charges on the adelsons?
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black and white top. >> reporter: for police, the undercover sting in april was the icin two-year quest to bring those behind dan markel's murder to justice. >> we want to make sure you take care of what he's going through. >> reporter: this may, police submitted these arrest affidavits against charles adelson and katherine magbanua, detailing the hidden camera encounter -- the suspected payoffs -- those revealing police interviews. while police believe they have the goods to prove adelson and magbanua are responsible for the murder of daniel markel,
>> i don't have evidence to charge the adelsons. i can't go on tv and accuse them of murder without that evidence. and right now i don't have sufficient evidence to do that. >> reporter: but at the very least, there's probable cause for "20/20" to ask charlie adelson a few questions. dr. adelson? >> yes? >> reporter: were you involved in a plot to kill dan markel? before the shooting, did you ever discuss hiring a hitman? >> reporter: adelson let the back of his $100,000 mercedes do the talking. parents have said the accusations are nothing more than fanciful fiction. apart from the drama, it's critical to remember that there are two young children caught in the middle of this tragedy. in wendi's podcast she talked about how happy they are to be close to the adelson family. >> my children are thriving and happy. >> reporter: however it happened, it seems the adelsons got pretty much what they
wendi and the kids now united with the rest of the family down in south florida. but what about their other family, the markels? despite the cloud of suspicion over the adelsons, dan's parents say their priority will always be their grandkids. >> the family has done everything within their power to maintain a regular ongoing relationship with the boys, including seeing the boys. ultimately the markels are there for their grandkids and will be for the rest of their lives. >> reporter: but to rub salt in an open wound, police revealed wendi has had the children's surnames changed from markel to adelson. she said she did this to protect them from media reports. that may have been the final insult to the memory of a man who treasured his kids above all else. >> he would not want to miss a second of his boys' life. and for him not to be here, i think is just the worst thing that could have ever happened to him. >> a waste of a life, a waste of