Police: Dan Markel was intended target

Dan Markel
Posted at 12:20 PM, Jul 22, 2014
and last updated 2016-05-26 04:34:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (ABC News/WTXL) -- Authorities are scrambling to the unravel the mystery around the killing of a prominent law professor at Florida State University.

Dan Markel, 41, was fatally shot Friday in his home, located in the Betton Hills section of Tallassee, Florida, a neighborhood marked by Spanish moss and ranch-style homes, and now suspicion that a killer lurks nearby.

There were no signs of forced entry, police told ABC News – leading investigators to conclude Markel knew his killer and may have literally opened his door to his own death.

“We do believe that this was not a random act where he just surprised somebody,” Officer David Northway said. "We believe that Mr. Markel, unfortunately, was the intended victim."

Police responded to Markel's house after neighbors reported hearing a loud bang. Markel was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Harvard grad had been published in the New York Times and served as a legal scholar, with a focus on criminal law. Markel was a father of two boys and had recently completed a protracted divorce that included multiple motions by the two sides for sanctions against each another.

Markel’s ex-wife, fellow FSU professor Wendi Jill Adelson, said through her lawyer that she was “just devastated” and “scared to death.” At a memorial service held Sunday, mourners recalled Markel's kindness and generosity.

“At the core,” said his friend, Professor Ethan Leib, “what he cared most about was making sure that our criminal justice system actually produced justice, and he’s going to be long remembered for that achievement.”

Authorities have opened a tip line, hoping to provide Markel justice, Northway said.

“There are probably two people in this world that know exactly where Mr. Markel was injured," Northway added. "One of those would be Mr. Markel himself and the other would be the suspect in this case.”