Murder-for-hire suspect pens note before deadly leap off River Oaks high-rise

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The prominent Montrose veterinarian, accused of hiring a hitman to kill her ex-husband, left more than one note behind before jumping to her death Monday.

Sources told Eyewitness News that Houston police found notes inside the River Oaks-area condominium of Valerie "Val" McDaniel, 48. They have not released the contents.

Officers were called to 2200 Willowick Road at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. Police say a woman jumped from the 7th floor. Her body was discovered in a courtyard area adjacent to the pool.

McDaniel was out on bond after being charged with solicitation of capital murder. Her next scheduled court date was Tuesday morning.

News of her apparent suicide shocked family and friends.

"I don't understand and I'm going to miss her so much," said Richard Fisher, a longtime friend.

Attorney George Parnham went to the Harris County jail to notify his client and McDaniel's co-defendant, Leon Jacob, 39.

"Devastated, devastated," is how he described Jacob's reaction.

"I know he viewed their relationship as a husband-and-wife relationship," Parnham said.

McDaniel and Jacob lived together at the high-rise. They were both charged with solicitation of capital murder. Jacob faces two counts.

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Tom Berg, Harris County assistant district attorney, said McDaniel and Jacob sought out a hitman to kill their respective exes.

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Berg said McDaniel's target was her ex-husband. Jacob's target was allegedly his girlfriend who was the complainant in a stalking case against him.
"Unwittingly, they of course end up with a hitman who's working for the Houston Police Department," Berg said.

According to charging records, the pair met the undercover officer -- posing as a hit man -- at an Olive Garden where they discussed plans for the killings and for further payments. McDaniel's ex-husband was allegedly supposed to be killed in a shooting that would be staged to look like a carjacking, according to Berg.

A judge denied Jacob bond. Parnham says Tuesday he'll ask a judge if Jacob can attend McDaniel's funeral. On Wednesday, he'll request bond.

"The judge may think I let one person out on bond and she's no longer with us. It's speculation, but something that has to be considered," Parnham said.

McDaniel and her ex-husband have an 8-year-old daughter. Her clients remained loyal, even after the accusations.

"The majority -- 99.9 percent -- of her world was being a vet and gosh, she was great at it," client Julie Waggoner said.

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