One Year After Murder, Miami Mourns FSU Lawyer Dan Markel as Police Ask For Help

One year ago, Dan Markel pulled into the driveway of his Tallahassee home, opened the door slightly, and was suddenly shot in the head. The nationally recognized, 41-year-old FSU law professor died a few hours later. His death rattled the FSU campus and entire academic legal community, down to Miami, where he had worked as a visiting professor at the University of Miami. 

A year after his death, few clues have emerged and no arrests have been made. With no new developments have been made in Markel’s case, Tallahassee police have offered a new reward for information tied to the violent crime.

“I knew Dan and his ex-wife and their wonderful children. We’re so sad about the terrible loss and the circumstances and not knowing what happened really,” Rabbi Judith Siegal of Coral Gables’ Temple Judea tells New Times.

Siegal and her husband met Markel through a Jewish fellowship program. Markel grew even closer to the Siegals when he was a visiting professor at the University of Miami. He would visit the Siegals every time he visited in Miami after starting work at Florida State University.

“There definitely are people that I continue to run into in Miami, people who ran into Dan. We’re all tied together through this sad, sad connection,” Siegal says. “He was such a special person.”

She says Markel was very active in the Jewish community, especially when it came to morality issues that he tussled with as lawyer.

Howard Wasserman, a lawyer at Florida International University, worked closely with Markel on a law blog they put together called PrawfsBlawg. He says the idea was entirely Markel’s and that it was revolutionary for 2005. “It was one of the first law professors blogs started when blogs were just being brought in as an academic exercise. It was a brand new medium for legal academics to use as part of their scholarship for professional writing,” he says.

A year after his death, the blog is still fully operating. Wasserman and two others have taken over as editors. It has grown to feature 15 permanent bloggers that write on a rotation. Leigh Osofsky, a lawyer at the University of Miami, is currently a visiting blogger.

Yesterday, she wrote a tribute to Merkel:
I distinctly remember beginning my work day a year ago and coming across the news of Dan's death. I was in complete shock. As so many people have attested to since Dan's death, he was larger than life. Every time I saw Dan, he always had a million pieces of advice, and was overflowing with life. This was even more unique for me because I actually hadn't spent much time with Dan. Only a brief encounter with him was enough to make him a part of your life somehow. After he was gone, I realized that everyone had this experience with him. He was just so full of life that I can't believe it has been a year since he has been gone. It seemed only fitting to remember him on this blog, and hope that his two boys grow up thriving as he would have wanted.
Last week, an article Wasserman and Markel coauthored was published in the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law. Titled “Catalyzing Fans,” it was about the possibility of fans raising money to lure professional athletes to their local teams. “He had this gem of an idea and then came to me,” Wasserman says. “We had been working on it for two years and it came out the week before the anniversary of his death.”

He adds: “If you are known by the mark you leave in the world, he left a very big mark in a short amount of time.”

As for the investigation into Merkel's death, Tallahassee PD announced this week a new $100,000 reward for info that leads to an arrest in the case; the police also asked for help from the public identifying a Prius seen leaving the scene of the crime
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Jess Swanson is the news editor at New Times. She graduated from the University of Miami and has a master's degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism.
Contact: Jess Swanson