Dateline NBC investigates the twisted murder-for-hire plot involving Meghan Verikas, Leon Jacob, Valerie McDaniel and Marion “Mack” McDaniel. Valerie McDaniel died by suicide in March of 2017.
At the time of her death, McDaniel was out on bond after being charged with solicitation of capital murder. She was a prominent Houston veterinarian who was in a relationship with Jacob at the time. According to Oxygen, he helped keep her mind off a difficult divorce and custody battle with her ex-husband, Marion “Mack” McDaniel III.
Both Jacob and McDaniel were arrested and charged with solicitation of capital murder, according to ABC News.
Two weeks after she was released, McDaniel died by suicide after jumping off the balcony of her seventh-floor apartment, the day before she was to appear in court.
McDaniel Was Allegedly Involved in Hiring a Hitman to Murder Her Ex-Husband
The couple first met at Willowick Condominiums in Houston. McDaniel was a veterinarian. In recordings left behind after her death for KPRC, she said that she and Jacob talked with an acquaintance who said he could help maker her ex-husband leave her alone.
“It just progressed,” she said.
On March 10, 2017, police knocked on McDaniel’s door to inform her that her husband had been found murdered, and when she and Jacob allegedly pretended to be shocked, police arrested them and charged them with solicitation of capital murder.
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.
McDaniel Left Behind Recordings Explaining What Happened Before She Died
From the time she was released on bond to the time she died, McDaniel recorded two hours of audio on her iPad, which, according to Click 2 Houston, she left with a handwritten note with a friend who lived in her building.
The audio reportedly starts with McDaniel stating, “Hey, it’s Valerie McDaniel, and it’s March 15, 2017. I’m sitting outside and I wanted to take time and tell my story from the beginning. Try not to judge me.”
She also said in the audio that she “never wanted to hurt anyone.”
McDaniel also kept an audio diary where she recorded thoughts and feelings. She often spoke of her relationship with Jacob in the weeks leading up to their arrest, speaking of “how beautiful he was,” according to CBS News.
McDaniel’s veterinary license was suspended because of the charges against her, and her friend Dr. Brittany King told CBS that McDaniel was “weighed down by her arrest, and the prospect she wouldn’t be seeing her daughter for a long, long time.”
In an interview from jail with 20/20, Jacob said he did not have anything to do with her suicide, and he was unable to leave jail to attend her funeral.
“That was a decision she made on her own,” he said at the time.
Jacob has maintained his innocence in the alleged murder plot. He will be eligible for parole in the year 2047 when he is 69 years old.