New Suspect Arrested in Connection with Execution-Style Killing of Florida State University Professor
Magbanua was romantically involved with Markel's brother-in-law Charlie Adelson and one of the hit men, Sigfredo Garci
Police have arrested a woman who they claim is the missing link in an alleged murder-for-hire plot that led to the brutal 2014 execution-style killing of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel.
Katherine Magbanua, 31, was taken into custody Saturday by police in Davie, Florida, on a warrant for first-degree murder, PEOPLE can confirm. Magbanua remains in Broward County Jail without bail.
In probable cause affidavits from the Tallahassee Police Department obtained by PEOPLE in September, Magbanua is one of four people listed as “responsible for the murder of Daniel Markel.” Investigators alleged in the documents that Magbuana’s boyfriend, Charlie Adelson organized a murder-for-hire plot that led to Markel’s killing.
Charlie was Markel’s brother-in-law. His sister, Wendi Adelson, was involved in an acrimonious divorce and child custody battle with Markel. Wendi Adelson is not accused of wrong doing by Tallahassee police, according to the documents.
State Attorney Willie Meggs has declined to charge Charlie Adeleson based on the police allegations and said he is innocent until proven guilty.
Investigators claim that Magbanua introduced Charlie Adelson to the men who are accused of killing Markel, Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, according to the September affidavit.
Garcia is Magbanua’s ex-boyfriend and also the father of her two children, authorities say.
Garcia was arrested in May and Rivera was arrested in June in connection with Markel’s slaying. Both have pleaded not guilty, and are awaiting trial in November.
Magbanua appeared in bond court in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday alongside her attorney Tara Kawass.
“Katherine is a single mom who has no prior convictions,” Kawass said in court, according to ABC News. “There was no reason to arrest her like this. Our sole priority right now is getting her on bond so she can take care of her two kids.”
Charlie Adelson’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, told the Tallahassee Democrat: “It’s sad that the police have arrested Katie when just last week the prosecution said there was no basis to proceed. They are trying to pressure a single mom who has no priors by threatening to make her little kids orphans. That’s not how our criminal justice system is supposed to work. It smacks of utter desperation.”
Magbauna has not yet entered a plea, though ABC reports that she is invoking her Fifth Amendment rights not to speak.
In addition, the affidavits show that Magbanua allegedly began receiving checks from the Adelson family’s dentistry practice after Markel’s – and that Rivera and Garcia purchased several cars and motorcycles.
“Investigators believe this pattern is consistent with Magbanua being the conduit during the planning of Markel’s murder,” the police report said, according to the Sun Sentinel.