>> tonight breaking news. monster storm. hurricane matthew menacing florida. winds of up to 130 miles per hour raging just offshore. the state's governor with a dire warning. >> unfortunately this is going to kill people. >> mass evacuations across several states and millions facing what could be the most powerful storm to hit the east coast in more than a decade. plus a murder for hire plot unraveling. one of the hit men cooperating with authorities. will he reveal who hired him to kill this florida professor? the exclusive undercover phone recordings that have investigators closing in on the unlikely suspects. no pom poms here, cheer leaders performing high flying
twists and the concussion rates are shooting up with them. tonight a former cheer leader with a warning for young athletes. first, the night line five. >> boost, it's about moving forward. not back. it's looking up, not down. it's feeling up, thinking up, living up. it's being in motion. in body, in spirit, in the now. boost, it's not just nutrition. it's intelligent nutrition with 26 vitamins and minerals and 10 grams of protein. all in three delicious flavors. it's choosing to go up. boost, be up for it. number one in just 60 seconds.
good evening. thank you for joining us. tonight florida under siege. one of the most powerful storms the east coast has seen in over a decade. our team is on the ground in the storm zone. hurricane matthew, a demon in the dark. the massive category 3 storm with winds over 120 miles per hour is wreaking havoc on the sun shine state. a strong warning from the governor. >> this is going to kill people. >> clogging major highways up and down the coast for miles. preparations from matthew's arrival going on for days. abc news is in the storm's path in west palm beach. >> we've reached a safe location. we're feeling the powerful winds and rain. we're still in the west palm beach area. we hope the not be near the eye wall. that's going to be dangerous coming ashore. if it comes ashore, that's what
officials want people to stay away from. some 2.5 million people are expected to be without power in florida by morning, and it will take that long to figure out where that damage is. >> reporter: so far power lines going down along the coast, tens of thousands already without power. abc is tracking the storm. >> reporter: a major concern here now, the storm surge. where i am it's expected to be six to ten feet. meaning this waterway could rise and for residents here flooding is a major fear. >> reporter: hurricane matthew is expected to continue moving up the coast impacting jacksonville, parts of georgia before hitting charleston, south carolina. it's torn a vicious path through haiti. thousands of homes destroyed. the destruction there still being tallied as it tore into
the bahamas today. peeling roofs off the houses and causing widespread flooding. the impact zone on lockdown. tonight close to 4,000 flights cancelled. even disney world closing down in orlando for only the fourth time in history. until the storm is over later friday. matthew remains a powerful hurricane into tomorrow as it makes its way into northern florida and georgia. we'll have more on the storm throughout the night on abc news and complete coverage on gma in the morning. we turn now to a twisted murder plot. the case of a florida college professor gunned down by a hit man. but who hired him? after two years, authorities say they're finally unraveling the mystery. here's matt gutman. >> reporter: it was a sensational murder case. >> the mystery killing of a prominent law professor. >> murdered execution style. >> reporter: a mystery assassination of a law professor, dan markelle, now a stunning turn or flip.
>> we change the plea at this point in time. >> reporter: one of the two hit men charged is now cooperating with the prosecution. >> do you understand what you're doing? >> reporter: the man who clammed up for months has now opened up, talking with prosecutors in exchange for a vastly lighter sentence. prosecutors say rivera and his accomplice were hired for the alleged hit. it was july when markelle was shot in his garage. >> he's inside. the car is running and he has blood all over his head. who would want the beloved professor dead in his beautiful ex-wife also a law professor told the police not everything had been amicable in their divorce. >> my ex-husband caused me a lot of grief, but i would never do something like this.
>> reporter: her boyfriend at the time told police that her family had come to hate markelle for blocking wendy and their kids from moving away. >> the family desperately wants her back in south florida. mother, father, and she has a brother. >> they hate danny in a way i've never seen this kind of obsession. >> reporter: was that enough for him to take a hit out on the professor. as police dig in, they discover a toyota seen at the crime was rented by a member of a gang. luis rivera. this video showed that prius following the professor into a fitness center on the morning of the killing and trailing him on his way back home. police say that later that evening a bank security camera captured him and his police in accomplice in the prius back in miami withdrawing money from an atm.
this may him and his accomplice charged with first degree murder and both pleaded not. everybody is asking who hired them. prosecutors say the plea deal this week may be the key to solving that mystery, and well worth the lighter sentence. >> i can understand why it was necessary to move forward and try to hold everyone accountable that has a part in this crime. >> reporter: she says the cooperation has led to the arrest just last weekend of this key suspect, kathryn. the link between the hit men and wendy adelson's family. she's the mother of accused hitman garcia's two children, and she's also the girlfriend of wendy's brother, charlie. >> reporter: did charlie have anything to do with the murder? >> no. he's being looked at because he had a dating relationship with katherine. however, there is no evidence that he solicited any type of murder. none.
>> reporter: but according to an arrest affidavit, they believe the murder was arranged through her and she made cash deposits of over $56,000 in the 16 months following the murder. police also say an informant told them that charlie picked up half the tab for a pricey breast job three months after the murder. police say that rivera who was incarcerated in an unrelated charge said she had all the money and she needed to be nice to him and give him bail money. armed with that information, police set up a sting this april rattling them who were happily reunited with wendy and the two kids in south florida. >> excuse me. >> reporter: watch what happens when donna is alone. she's approached by an undercover agent posing as rivera's brother.
he presses her for payment for services renders. by his brother, luis. >> my brother helped your family. he's going through some rough times. i want to make sure he's taken care of what he's going through. >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> this will explain it. thank you. >> she has the paper. they're walking away. >> reporter: police say inside the envelope is a press release about the murder, and a demand for $5,000 and a phone number. how would the grandmother react? >> hello? >> this is mrs. adelson. >> reporter: "nightline" exclusively getting this recording of donna's call back to that undercover agent three weeks after the sting. >> i don't know your friend who is in jail. i'm sorry your friend is in jail, but i don't know what that has to do with me. >> you know exactly what it has to do with. he told me everything. i ask to send the $5,000.
everybody knows what's going on. >> you're saying everyone knows. i know i lost my ex-son-in-law. i did not have anything to do with it. >> reporter: she sticks to her guns adamantly denying any knowledge of a plot. but police say the roos still worked. that her call followed a series of nervous conversations between the adelsons, matt, and the alleged hitman. police say they discuss paying up the five grand but never do, and according to police documents, charlie, wendy's brother, allegedly said he wanted that mysterious messenger eliminated permanently, saying you'd better kill him because he's going to be a big problem. if you can't do it, i'll have someone else do it. police had heard enough. this may they submitted arrest affidavits for charlie and katie stating they were responsible for the murder of daniel markelle. at the time the prosecutor
declined to file charges citing insufficient evidence. when abc news caught up with charlie, he wasn't eager to answer our questions. >> reporter: dr. adelson, were you involved in a plot to kill dan markelle? did you discuss hiring a hitman. >> reporter: attorneys have said the accusation of their involvement are nothing more than fanciful fiction, and in response to the plea deal, charlie's attorney said the hitman would say anything to avoid the death penalty. but with rivera cooperating and another in custody, prosecutors want to turn that hope of future arrests into reality. for "nightline," i'm matt gutman in florida. up next, a former cheer leader who suffered six concussions. warning young athletes and parents about what's become the most dangerous sport for young women in america. hey girlfriend, how's your cafe au lait?
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when you think of dangerous contact sports you probably don't think of cheerleading. that's what it's become. a long way from the chanting and pom pom waving to the past. modern cheerleaders are more like competitive gymnasts with a high risk of injuries. here's paula ferris. >> reporter: competitive cheering is not for the faint of heart. the flips, jumps, and tosses require physical and mental toughness. but it's the falls that make it the most dangerous sport for
female athletes. a bad fall can have serious, even catastrophic consequences. just ask katelyn banky. >> it took over my life but in a good way. i think cheer really shaped who i am today. >> reporter: she started competing at six. >> it was cheer 100%. 15 hours a week for 15 years. >> reporter: over the course of 15 years she suffered five concussions, all from cheer leading. her first concussion was when she was 13, not from flying and falling but from being the base. >> i caught the girl and both my arms were around her, and i missed the mat when i fell and hit my head right on the basketball floor. that one was scary, because i did lose vision for a while. >> reporter: but she didn't stop cheering. >> i avoided going to the doctor. i tried pushing myself too hard to get back in really fast, because i didn't want to miss cheering at the next big game. >> despite the dangers of concussions, there is still a
suck it up attitude in the sports culture. we need to realize that you cannot roll the dice with your brain health and well being. >> reporter: cheer leading evolved from cheering on the sidelines to a highly competitive, international sport. and the pressure to win by doing even higher jumps and more challenging throws is intense. >> i wouldn't want to disappoint people by giving up. >> reporter: two years ago we spent time with carli manning, a competitive cheerleader in texas. like katelyn, she, too, had been training for over half her life. >> i usually have about 16 hour days. >> reporter: we followed carli and her team as they prepped for the world championships. >> practices are very important, especially here at triathletics. that's where you're trying to earn your spot. >> reporter: her ability to fly to record breaking heights helped the wildcats consistently
beat the competition, but perfecting the routines is brutal. before a major competition, carli can train for up to 15 hours a week. that's on top of full-time school. >> when you come in here for the next practices, including if you have mono, strep, if you have a broken leg and the bone is sticking out the side of your body, you have a smile an your face and fake it the entire practice. >> you can do it. >> reporter: but the more challenging the routine, the higher the risk. >> flipping, spinning, throwing girls in the air is a dangerous part of cheerleading. >> reporter: i broke my right ankle. i've had various hamstring injuries. >> i want to do it until my body breaks. >> reporter: competitive cheer is a short lived career. carli has become a celebrity of sorts with over 500,000
followers on instagram. she's now 18 years old and a sophomore cheerleader at oklahoma state university. hundreds of thousands of her followers still watch her gravity defying moves. the popularity of this sport is growing, but so the are injuries. in 1980 there were nearly 5,000 emergency room visits caused by cheerleading. that number jumped to over 26,000 in 2007. in fact, female cheerleading is second only to football in the number of direct catastrophic events among high school and college sports. >> there are a lot of myths out there, and one of them is that you have to black out or have a loss of consciousness to have a concussion. that's not true. we know that 90% of concussions occur in people who have not lost consciousness or blacked out. >> reporter: as for katelyn, she was a sophomore on the squad at the university of texas when she had concussion number four. by that time she was beginning
to see the long-term effects. >> i really started having some memory issues. short-term memory issues, not being able to remember where i parked my car, not being able to find words when i was talking. headaches. i've had a lot of issues with depression. >> reporter: she's been forced to say good-bye to her lifelong passion because the risk of continuing was too high. >> i decided i had to quit when i saw a specialist in houston. we were talking about the fact that i have a life ahead of me, and if i continue to cheer, i would get more concussions, and who knows what the side effects of those ones would be. >> reporter: high schools and colleges have protocols in place for reporting head trauma, but katelyn hopes cheer leading will become recognized as a sport so concussions, are combatted as aggressively as football. >> i think if i played it
smarter and sat out longer and let myself truly recover and not gotten the repetitive concussions, i wouldn't be in the position i am now. >> when we come back, more updates on hurricane matthew and the path of destruction. ♪ ♪ ♪ one smart choice leads to the next. ♪ the new 2017 ford fusion is here. it's the beauty of a well-made choice. ♪
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we can't go back to the years of devastating cuts to public education. exactly why i urge you to vote yes on prop 55. prop 55 prevents $4 billion in new education cuts without raising taxes on anyone. and there's strict accountability in prop 55. with local control over school funding decisions. and mandatory annual audits guaranteeing the money goes directly to our classrooms. not to bureaucracy,
not to administration. so vote yes on 55. because it helps our children thrive. in recapping the top story, we continue to track hurricane matthew. now a category three storm looming off the florida coastline. the bands wreaking havoc, heavy rains and forcing the mass evacuation of millions of people. tens of thousands have already lost power. with our team in the storm zone, we'll keep you updated throughout the night and early tomorrow on good morning america. thank you for watching abc news, and as always, we're online at
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