Florida mom whose son hired hitman to kill his brother-in-law arrested in murder investigation

The mother of a Florida dentist who was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot over a custody dispute was arrested Monday night on allegations linked to the 2014 killing, court and jail records show.

Donna Sue Adelson, 73, was being held in a Miami jail on suspicion of murder and other crimes after booking Nov. 13 airline tickets with her husband to Vietnam, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, according to jail records and an arrest warrant obtained Tuesday by NBC News. 

After Charles Adelson’s Nov. 6 conviction in the 2014 murder of his former brother-in-law, Florida State University law professor Dan Markel, Donna Adelson was captured on recorded phone calls to her son’s jail telling him that she was considering leaving the country.

matriarch professor murder plot
Donna Adelson listens to Judge Mindy Glazer at Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Tuesday, after being arrested at Miami Int’l Airport Monday evening.NBC 6

In the calls, the warrant says, “Donna Sue Adelson is telling Charles Adelson that she is getting things in order, creating trusts and making sure her grandchildren are taken care of. Donna discusses plans for a suicide, but also discusses plans to flee to a non-extradition country.” 

“Donna Sue Adelson has considerable financial resources to accomplish this,” the warrant adds.

She and her husband were taken into custody at Miami International Airport, Second Judicial District State Attorney Jack Campbell told the Tallahassee Democrat. 

Campbell, who did not respond to a request for comment, told the newspaper that Adelson’s husband was not arrested.

In addition to a first-degree murder charge, Donna Adelson was also accused of solicitation and conspiracy, according to the warrant. 

The warrant says that Donna Adelson and her husband had the means to finance Markel’s killing and provide ongoing compensation to Katherine Magbanua, an ex-girlfriend of Charles Adelson’s who was convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying last year.

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