As new details emerged about an unusual abduction case Dan Markel had worked on before his murder, police on Monday released 911 call logs suggesting the prominent law professor and blogger was still moving after he was shot in his car by an unknown assailant and found by a neighbor.
Markel, a widely praised criminal law instructor at Florida State University, creator of the celebrated PrawfsBlawg, and father of two young boys, was shot once in the jawline by a gunman on foot as Markel returned home from dropping his sons off at daycare. His death the following day unleashed a torrent of speculation as to who might have targeted the respected scholar at his house in Tallahassee's tony Betton Hills neighborhood.
Local news station WCTV, which retraced Markel's steps in the days before his death noted late yesterday that the lawyer—who was devoted to his Jewish faith—had been working on a strange case prior to his murder:
Eyewitness News has also confirmed Markel was hired as a consultant in a New Jersey case involving four Orthodox rabbis.
They're accused of conspiring to kidnap and force Jewish men to grant their wives religious divorces.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, two of the rabbis were recorded discussing plans to kidnap and torture victims.
For one particular target, those plans included kidnapping the victim in a van and assaulting him with a cattle prod.
Benjamin Brafman, a New York-based attorney for one of the rabbis, told WCTV he had brought Markel on "as an expert on conspiracy law." But Brafman added that his client was under monitoring and had "no connection to Markel's murder."
The 911 call log shows that a next-door neighbor of Markel's, drawn by the loud report of the gun, went over to the house and found Markel, still alive, behind the wheel of his Honda Accord, then called emergency services:
"CALLER ADV(ISES) THE DRIVER SIDE WINDOW IS BASHED OPEN AND THE DRIVER IS BLEEDING AND UNABLE TO TELL THE CALLER WHAT IS GOING ON," wrote the Tallahassee Fire Department operator who fielded the neighbor's call.
Police reportedly responded to the call within about 15 minutes, but the call log notes that the call taker initially entered Markel's address incorrectly.
The log goes on to say that Markel "WAS NOT EVER HEARD TALKING (THE CALLER WAS CLOSE ENOUGH TO HEAR)," but that Markel was sitting and moving in his car.
As for who had attacked the attorney, the neighbor couldn't tell, according to the log: "CALLER SAID HE HEARD THE LOUD NOISE AND SAW A VEH(ICLE) DRIVING AWAY."
The description of the vehicle was cut off in that report, but police have said they're searching for a light-colored Prius seen in the vicinity. It has not yet been reported found.