Police name second suspect in murder of FSU professor, identify motive

Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera.
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By: Julie Montanaro
June 2, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A second suspect will soon face charges in the murder of FSU law professor Dan Markel.

Sigfredo Garcia was arrested last week in Broward County and brought to Tallahassee Wednesday to face charges.

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo announced Thursday afternoon that a second suspect, Luis Rivera, would also be charged in Markel's murder.

Previously sealed court documents released Thursday morning say the two men traveled from Broward County to Tallahassee to kill Markel and then returned immediately afterward.

The documents stop short of calling it a murder for hire, but suggest a link between Garcia and the family of Markel's ex-wife, Wendi Adelson.

The Tallahassee Police investigator who penned the arrest papers says the couple's bitter divorce was the motive. "This murder stemmed from the desperate desire of the Adelson family to relocate Wendi and the children to South Florida," the arrest affidavit said, "and a pending court hearing that might have impacted their access to the grandchildren."

The chief says more arrests are likely, but he would not say whether any members of the Adelson family are considered suspects.

"This is still an ongoing investigation," Chief DeLeo said.

Court records say the two suspects, Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, men came to Tallahassee, cased Markel's house and followed him home the morning of the murder.

FSU law professor Dan Markel was shot in the head, sitting in his car, in his own garage. That was July 18, 2014.

Just released court records say Markel was on the phone at the time and told the person on the other end there was a stranger in his driveway.

Those arrest papers contend Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera had been following Markel all morning in a Prius.

Police say the men followed Markel to Premier Fitness Center and waited in the parking lot for more than an hour from about 9:15 to 10:40 in the morning.

"Oh, that's scary," said Kae Ingram O'Brien, who works out at the gym each morning at about that same time. "We just never think of this sort of thing happening here."

Arrest records say the men then followed Markel along Thomasville Road and surveillance video from Star Metro buses and businesses along the way show the Prius trailing Markel's car.

Court papers also suggest Garcia and Rivera may have cased Markel's home the day before the murder from a walking path behind his home.

Court papers say a resident at the Ashford Club Apartments spotted two men emerging from the path, which runs along a drainage ditch behind Markel's house.

One of the men "was completely wet as if he fell into the drainage ditch," arrest papers say. "The driver's pants appeared wet up to the knees."

"It's the most beautiful path I know in the city," Tim Lynch said as he walked along the path Thursday, "and to feel like it was violated by two heinous characters like these two is just disturbing."

Tallahassee's Police Chief stopped short of calling Garcia and Rivera hired hit men.

"Would you characterize this as a murder for hire?"

"I would say that there is certainly good information, indications, that... since there is no known relationship between Mr. Rivera or Mr. Garcia and Professor Markel that obviously, it was not a random act that they came up here," Chief DeLeo said.

"Have they been able to establish any proof of payment or anything like that?"

"That's still an ongoing part of the investigation," Chief DeLeo said.

Court records say police were able to track cell phone calls and establish a link between Garcia and the family of Markel's ex-wife.

Court records say Charlie Adelson - the ex-wife's brother - was involved in a personal relationship with a woman who is the mother of Garcia's two children.

The police chief would not comment on whether any of the Adelsons are considered suspects.

"We're not on speaking terms," Chief DeLeo said.

"Do you consider Wendi Adelson or Charles Adelson suspects?"

"I don't think we are to that point yet," Chief DeLeo said.

DeLeo said investigators with TPD's Violent Crimes Unit have been chipping away at this case for two years, securing surveillance video, reviewing records, and following leads.

"I can't tell you how incredibly proud I am of the detailed, painstaking work," DeLeo said. "Our investigative team kept plugging away, kept chipping away every day. There's been volumes and volumes and volumes of work done. When it all comes out, you'll see the depth and detail of the investigation."

In the order to seal records submitted on May 26, TPD suggests that suspected co-defendants in the case "have the financial means to flee the country and not return" and that they "have already been discovered talking about leaving."

At this time, no further arrests have been made, nor any additional suspects named.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
June 2, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Police have implicated a second suspect, and connected the family of Dan Markel's ex-wife to a 2014 murder plot of the FSU law professor, according to court documents.

Sigfredo Garcia, 34, was arrested last week in Hallandale Beach, Florida and charged in connection with Markel's murder.

Markel was found suffering a gunshot wound to the head at his Trescott Drive home in July of 2014. He later died at a local hospital

According to recently released court documents, police say the motive for the murder stemmed from the desire of the family of Markel's ex-wife to relocate her and their children to South Florida.

Markel had been in a lengthy legal battle with his ex-wife Wendi Adelson over her relocation with their children to South Florida.

He had asked the court for his ex-mother-in-law to be prohibited from having unsupervised visitation with his children after claiming that she made disparaging remarks about him to his sons.

TPD says there was a pending court hearing that may have impacted the grandparents' access to their grandchildren.

Police have accused Garcia and another man, 33-year-old Luis M. Rivera, of murder.

According to police, Garcia and Rivera are accused of renting a Prius in North Miami, driving to Tallahassee two days before the murder, following Markel on errands the morning of the murder, and shooting him while he was on the phone in his car inside the garage at his home.

Officials say the Prius, which was connected to the murder in the days after the investigation began in 2014, was spotted on surveillance footage following Markel to Premier Fitness the morning of the murder.

Police also believe it was spotted in surveillance video from two Star Metro buses, both before and after Markel was murdered, as well as surveillance video at a bank, a government facility, and a store all of which were along Markel's route the morning of July 18.

A resident of nearby apartments told police that they saw two men who fit Garcia and Rivera's descriptions in a "bluish-silver Prius-type car."

The witness said that the men left the vehicle and returned about 10 minutes later.

Police connect Markel's ex-brother-in-law Charlie Adelson to Garcia in the probable cause affidavit. According to TPD, Adelson is in a relationship with the mother of Garcia's children, Katherine Magbanua.

Police say that Charlie Adelson did not like Markel and did not get along with him.

According to police, Garcia had been in contact with Magbanua via phone approximately 2,700 times between May 1, 2014 and July 19, 2014.

Activity ceased on Garcia's phone the day after the homicide, according to investigators

Phone records indicated that both of Garcia and Rivera's phones had been in the vicinity of Premier Health & Fitness Center the morning of July 18, according to TPD, and that both phones had traveled from North Miami to Tallahassee during that time frame.

Another witness told police that he had met with Garcia and Rivera in Tallahassee a month before the homicide. The witness had reportedly agreed to rent a motel room on N. Monroe Street the night of July 17.

The witness told police that Rivera had a 'silver-finish, short-barrel revolver' the first time he had met with them.

According to TPD, the caliber of the firearm used in the murder is consistent with revolver ammunition.

Police have not indicated that there are any other suspects in the case, aside from Rivera, at this time. However, officials say they believe both Garcia and Rivera were "enlisted" to commit the crime against "someone they did not know and had never interacted with before the murder."

Rivera, who also goes by the alias 'King Tato,' is currently serving prison time at the Federal Correctional Institute in Sumterville, Florida, for his role in the notorious Latin Kings gang. TPD says additional charges against Rivera are forthcoming.

The Tallahassee Police Department held a press conference at TPD headquarters on Thursday afternoon to provide an update on the investigation.

During the press conference, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo confirmed that more arrests may be on the way in the case.

"I think that it is more probable than not that there will be additional arrests," Chief DeLeo said.

He would not say whether any of the Adelsons could be charged in the case.

To watch the full press conference, click here.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

The PC affidavit for Sigfredo Garcia is attached to this article.

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