A well-known Houston veterinarian and her boyfriend were accused of hiring a hitman to murder each of their exes.
Valerie McDaniel and Leon Jacob were accused of hatching the twisted plot together but were unaware the “hitman” was a cop, according to Click2Houston.
On March 27, McDaniel committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of her condominium, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Police even went to the extent of alerting McDaniel’s ex-husband and Jacob’s ex-girlfriend of the alleged plans to kill them – and staged the murders to see if the couple, who lived together in a luxury high rise, would pay up.
Now McDaniel, 48, and Jacob, 39, are both charged with soliciting capital murder.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. An Undercover Police Officer Posed as a Hitman Who Stood to Receive Cartier Watches as Payment
ABC13 reported that the plot was foiled when an undercover police officer posed as the hitman.
“Prosecutors said Jacob and McDaniel met with the undercover officer to talk about the details at the Olive Garden on Buffalo Speedway,” the television station reported.
Payment was to be $10,000 and two Cartier watches, reported ABC13. The ex-husband then agreed to pose for pictures that supposedly showed him getting shot in a carjacking as planned, although they were faked by police, the television station reported.
The supposed hitman then showed the couple photos of “a man lying lifeless. Another showed a woman bound and gagged,” and they paid up, prosecutors alleged, according to The Houston Chronicle. The newspaper quoted a prosecutor as saying the pair didn’t want to look at the photos, and described Jacob as “a washed-out medical resident.”
The story was so elaborate that “police officers were sent to McDaniel’s front door to notify her as next-of-kin,” reported the Houston Chronicle.
2. McDaniel Owns a Houston Veterinary Clinic & Is the Mother of a Young Daughter
According to the biography for McDaniel posted on the website of her veterinary clinic, Montrose, she “is a native Houstonian. She was in the first graduating class, from Episcopal High School, then received her undergrad degree from the University of St. Thomas.”
Her bio photo shows her holding an animal.
The bio says that McDaniel “studied veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University, where she graduated in 1997. In 2000, she became the proud Owner of The Montrose Veterinary Clinic. She and her daughter live with their two dogs, Peyton and Emaline, their cat Embree, and their Illiger Macaw Grover. Dr. McDaniel spends her free time cooking, reading and relaxing on the water.”
McDaniel’s daughter is 8-years-old.
3. McDaniel’s Divorce Was Ugly & More Than $1 Million Was at Stake
According to Click2Houston, divorce documents show “the couple divied up several high-end cars.” However, the Houston Chronicle reports that McDaniel “was hit last year with $1.3 million divorce settlement.”
The television station also reported that McDaniel’s ex-husband received “property on Tiki Island.” The divorce was finalized last August, according to The Houston Chronicle.
McDaniel’s lawyer “suggested the veterinarian was drawn into the plot by Jacob” and that she came into it after the fact, the newspaper reported. Prosecutors deny this, telling the Chronicle that McDaniel discussed with the “officer exactly how she wanted her ex-husband killed.”
4. Jacob Was Recently Charged With Stalking His Ex Girlfriend
The ex-girlfriend that Jacob – McDaniel’s live-in boyfriend – is accused of trying to kill?
He was accused of stalking her, according to KHOU-TV. (The photos above are of McDaniel and Jacob.)
“He was recently charged with stalking her and allegedly told the undercover officer he wanted her taken care of so she couldn’t testify,” the television station reported. According to KSAT, “Jacob has a criminal arrest history for domestic violence, aggravated stalking, intimidation and cyberstalking.”
ABC13 reported that “Jacob’s ex-girlfriend was allegedly supposed to be kidnapped, threatened and killed if she became uncooperative” and prosecutors allege that Jacob “also spoke about using his own medical training in the form of an injection that could be a way to end his ex’s life.”
Jacob’s Facebook page claims he works at a local hospital and worked at a heart institute, as well as studying at Saint George’s University School of Medicine and economics at University of Texas-Austin.
5. McDaniel’s Mother Was Previously Charged With a Crime but Clients Say They Are Shocked by the Allegations Against the Vet
Clients have leapt to McDaniel’s defense in Houston news media.
One woman told Click2Houston, “I absolutely adore her. She’s the best vet in Houston. She’s taken care of my cats for the last 16 years. I wouldn’t see anyone else for anything.”
According to Click2Houston, McDaniel’s mother, Carole Busick, a psychologist, “was indicted by a Harris County grand jury in 2015 on allegations of tampering with government records.” She and her husband were “charged with certifying psych evaluations” but Busick received a “deferred” result, according to the TV station.