D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Murder For Hire

Did Robert Edelman plot to kill his wife?

I didn’t know anything of the case of Robert Edelman until reading the story from the May 1988 issue of D Magazine about his acrimonious divorce from his wife Linda and criminal conviction for having plotted to have her murdered. I finished the article by Sally Giddens with the impression that Edelman — though a certified asshole — had been a victim of a scheme hatched by Joseph James Young, the private investigator he’d hired to follow Linda and find out whether she had a boyfriend. It is a crazy story, and you should most definitely read the whole thing, since it’s one of our 40 greatest stories.

So I was pretty sure that Edelman got screwed, but then I found out what followed. Late in 1988, after telling our writer that he was “completely innocent,” Edelman pled guilty. He’d been facing up to an additional 99 years of prison on state charges, but a new lawyer struck a deal with prosecutors to make it only nine years and to run the sentence concurrently with the 10-year punishment the federal case had delivered.

And about that new lawyer: Steve Sumner, who’d seemingly done a great job of poking holes in the government’s case against Edelman, ended up suing his client for nonpayment. He won that suit, but Edelman, according to our 1994 update, declared bankruptcy and rid himself of the debt. (Sumner still believed in Edelman’s innocence, however.)

Edelman (left) in a still from a 2008 YouTube video touting his knowledge of Dallas real estate.
Edelman (left) in a still from a 2008 YouTube video touting his knowledge of Dallas real estate.

In 1992, Jim Schutze penned a true-crime book on the case. It’s titled “My Husband’s Trying to Kill Me!” I’ve not read it, and we don’t have a copy sitting around here at D Magazine World Headquarters, but based on a few reviews online, it establishes Edelman not only as an asshole but also a man who physically abused his wife and terrorized their children. Of course, it’s a perfect scenario for a TV movie-of-the-week, which is what it was made into in 1993. Called Dead Before Dawn, it starred Cheryl Ladd as Linda Edelman.

After serving his time in prison, Edelman returned to Dallas and got back into real estate development, as president of Drexel Development. The company touts among its developments the Drexel Highlander building, which I know well because it sits right next to the old D Magazine World Headquarters on Oak Lawn Avenue just outside the Highland Park town limits. In March 2011, Edelman and his wife Diana were sued by Drexel Highland Limited Partnership for having lived in a unit of that building for four years without having paid rent or had some authorized lease agreement. This year they’re involved in bankruptcy proceedings. So he continues to live a dramatic life, for sure.

UPDATE: Late yesterday the United States Bankruptcy Court issued a judgment against Edelman in his dispute with Drexel Highlander Limited Partnership. Read all about it.