Couple Charged In “Bizarre” Murder-For-Hire Scheme Of Their Exes

Their exes helped stage photos of their fake murders to catch the suspects.

A Texas couple was charged Friday with attempting to hire a hitman to kill their exes in an elaborate conspiracy, People magazine reported.

Wealthy veterinarian Valerie McDaniel, 48, and her boyfriend Leon Jacob, 39, were allegedly willing to pay thousands of dollars to have her ex-husband killed in a fake car-jacking, and Jacob’s ex-girlfriend killed in a kidnapping. They were arrested because the “hitmen” they were allegedly talking to—at an Olive Garden, of all places—were an undercover police officer and his informant.

“The whole thing is bizarre,” said county prosecutor Tom Berg, in an interview with People.

Jacob allegedly tried to get his ex-girlfriend killed to stop her from testifying against him in a felony stalking case, according to a tip received by investigators. 

Police tracked down the man that Jacob had paid $15,000 in exchange for killing his ex, and convinced the hit man to work with investigators instead, People reported.

McDaniel later joined the scheme and allegedly asked the hitman to kill her ex-husband for $10,000 also. Berg told People that investigators believe she had an “acrimonious” divorce with her ex-husband and that there were battles over custody of her 8-year-old daughter. McDaniel shared joint custody of her daughter with her ex, a local outlet said.

Police told the exes about the plan and both agreed to stage fake photos of their deaths in order to “prove” to McDaniel and Jacob that their orders were carried out.

McDaniel allegedly broke into tears when she saw the photos of her ex-husband pretending to be dead. 

“They didn’t want to see the photos,” Berg said, “They were reluctant to see the result of their handiwork.”

Police arrested her and Jacob that night. They were each charged with solicitation of capital murder.

[Image: Harris County]