Tonight on Dateline NBC, Andrea Canning reports the story of a twisted Murder-For-Hire plot involving Meghan Verikas and her ex-boyfriend Leon Jacobs.
According to the episode description, “When Meghan Verikas falls in love with successful Houston doctor Leon Jacob, the relationship ends up taking a turn for the worse. As she breaks up with him, she finds out she might be the target of a murder-for-hire plot.”
The story has been the subject of Dateline NBC, 20/20, 48 Hours and plenty of podcasts and YouTube videos.
Here’s what you should know about Meghan Verikas and Leon Jacob:
1. Leon Jacob and Meghan Verikas Were in a Relationship For Years
Verikas dated Jacob for more than two years, but they broke up after she said he became physically violent.
Verikas spoke to Canning in the Dateline NBC episode, saying that her relationship with Jacob started out great.
“I don’t think I ever had someone tell me I was beautiful that much,” she said.
According to ABC 13, she said that Jacob refused to accept the breakup. He continually tried to contact her through calls, texts and emails. He also allegedly showed up at the place she was staying.
Jacob was charged with assault and stalking at that time, according to ABC 13. Authorities believe that is when he hired someone who he believed was a hitman to scare her or kill her if necessary. In actuality, he’d spoken to an undercover officer.
2. Verikas Agreed to Fake Her Kidnapping With Police to Catch Jacob
According to Newsweek, police faked Verikas’ kidnapping and showed Jacob pictures of that as well as of Mack McDaniel’s fake death.
The staged photos of the kidnapping were shown in court, and Verikas described what it was like to pose for those photos to lead Jacob into thinking she had been kidnapped by a hitman.
“I sat in a chair in a warehouse and they zip-tied my hands and my feet and put duct tape around my mouth to make me look as if I had been kidnapped,” she said in court, according to CBS News.
After the undercover officers said the targets were dead, they told Jacob and his girlfriend Valerie McDaniel, who allegedly pretended to act surprised.
3. Jacob and Valerie McDaniel Allegedly Offered Money and Gifts in Exchange for Two Murders
According to Law and Crime, Jacob and McDaniel allegedly offered both money and gifts to hitmen in exchange for kidnapping and killing Verikas and McDaniels’ ex-husband.
Throughout several meetings, the undercover officer recorded the conversations between himself and Jacob including discussing the possibility of convincing Verikas to leave town or planting drugs on her. They also spoke about her being killed.
“I prefer not to have to do that but my survival is more important,” Jacob said on the tapes, according to ABC 13. “I worked too hard the last 20 years in education to get where I am to have this bite me in the butt and everything I worked for.”
4. Jacob and McDaniel Were Charged With Solicitation of Capital Murder
Both Jacob and McDaniel were arrested and charged with solicitation of capital murder, according to ABC News.
After being arrested, McDaniel was released on bail and died by suicide two weeks later after jumping off the balcony of her seventh-floor apartment the day before she was to appear in court.
According to KTRK, McDaniel made recordings, telling her version of events, before her death and left them for a friend in the building who worked for KPRC. Some excerpts were later shared, including Valerie claiming that police entrapped her and she never planned to hurt her daughter’s father.
“I’m so sorry about everything,” she said.
5. Jacob Will Be Eligible For Parole After 30 Years in Prison
Jacob underwent trial in March 2018, taking the stand to profess his innocence and assert that he is not guilty. The jury disagreed with him, however, convicting him of two counts of solicitation of capital murder.
Jacob was sentenced to life in prison on March 27, 2018 and will be eligible for parole after 30 years behind bars.
After the guilty verdict, Verikas delivered a victim impact statement, speaking directly to Jacob.
“While you sit in jail, I hope you think of me,” she said to him. “The girl that you called poor and uneducated. It’s because of me that you will be in prison for life.”