Infamous Houston love triangles: 5 bizarre true-life tales stranger than fiction

A look back at some of Harris County’s most notorious crimes of passion

Mugshots of Lisa Nowak, David Temple and Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo (KPRC 2, Associated Press)

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – In the past two decades, the Houston area has seen David Temple shoot his pregnant wife, Clara Harris run over her husband, astronaut Lisa Nowak pepper spray a captain in the Air Force, Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo poison her colleague-turned-lover’s coffee, and a Montrose couple try to hire an undercover police officer -- posing as a hit man -- to off their exes.

Scroll below for a look back at some of Harris County’s most infamous crimes of passion. Some of these true-life tales are even stranger than fiction.

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Dentist convicted of running down husband with her car

On May 11, 2018, one of Houston’s most infamous killers was released from prison. Sixteen years prior, Clara Harris had been a Colombian-Houston beauty queen-turned-dentist who lived in Friendswood with her orthodontist husband David, and their twin sons. On July 24, 2002, Harris got into her silver Mercedes-Benz and drove to the Nassau Bay Hilton, the hotel where she and David had wed on Valentine’s Day 1992. Accompanying her in the Mercedes was Lindsey, David’s 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

When Clara stormed into the hotel lobby, she spotted David and his receptionist-turned-lover, Gail Bridges, emerge from the elevator holding hands. Days earlier, David confessed to Clara that he and Gail had been having a nearly three-month affair, and he had promised Clara that he would end it. Clara, who had been tipped off to David’s whereabouts by a private investigator she had hired to trail him, confronted the couple.

Eventually, Clara returned to her Mercedes. Moments later, when she glimpsed David walking Gail to her SUV, Clara revved her Mercedes, raced toward the couple, struck David, turned in a tight circle and struck him again, and then again – all while Lindsey screamed in the passenger seat.

The whole scene was captured on videotape by the private detective firm that Clara had hired.

That night, as an officer led Clara away in handcuffs, she told KPRC 2 “It was an accident.”

In court, Clara testified as much. She said she unintentionally hit David while in a heartsick daze, that she had wanted only to damage Gail’s black Lincoln Navigator.

“I think I closed my eyes,” Clara testified. “After that, I didn’t know who was driving. Everything seemed like a dream.”

Clara was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in person. She was granted parole in 2017 and released from prison in 2018. She will remain on parole until February 2023.

MORE: 7 things to know know about Clara Harris murder case

Houston oncologist convicted of poisoning colleague-turned-lover

On Sept. 26, 2014, a Houston breast cancer oncologist was convicted of aggravated assault for poisoning her colleague-turned-lover by lacing his coffee with a sweet-tasting chemical found in antifreeze.

Both cancer researchers at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo and Dr. George Blumenschein bonded while working long hours. The pair were in a “casual sexual relationship” when, on Jan. 27, 2013, Gonzalez-Angulo insisted Blumenschein drink her “special Colombian coffee.”

“It was very, very sweet,” Blumenschein later testified.

When he asked Gonzalez-Angulo why the coffee was so sweet, she told him she had used Splenda, an artificial sweetener.

“I found it odd that she put Splenda in the coffee. I like it black and she knows that,” Blumenschein said.

Several hours after drinking the coffee, Blumenschien said he experienced slurred speech, poor balance and a loss of fine motor skills. Later, he was admitted to an emergency room where he was diagnosed with central nervous system damage, cardiopulmonary complications and renal failure, according to court documents. He survived after undergoing dialysis.

Describing Gonzalez-Angulo as ”devious, diabolical, and dangerously deadly,” prosecutors said she had a “fatal attraction” to Blumenschein and laced his coffee with ethylene glycol because he rejected her in favor of his longtime live-in girlfriend, Evette Toney, with whom he was trying to start a family.

The defense claimed there was no conclusive proof that Gonzalez-Angulo poisoned the coffee.

Gonzalez-Angulo was ultimately convicted of the crime and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

MORE: Doctor convicted of poisoning lover talks about life in jail

Former Alief football coach convicted twice for pregnant wife’s 1999 killing

On Aug. 6, 2019, one of Houston’s most notorious killers was convicted a second time in his pregnant wife’s killing. 20 years prior, Belinda Temple, a high school teacher who was eight months pregnant, was shot to death in the couple’s Katy home. The 20-gauge shotgun used to kill her was never found.

A jury found David Temple guilty of murder in 2007, but Texas’ top criminal court overturned that conviction in 2016 because prosecutors withheld hundreds of pages of police reports.

During the retrial, prosecutors told jurors Temple staged a burglary at the couple’s home and shot his wife because he was having an affair with his co-worker Heather Scott, whom he married two years after the murder.

Defense attorneys argued Belinda was killed by a 16-year-old neighbor and student.

Temple himself has maintained his innocence.

A jury again found Temple guilty in his wife’s slaying.

MORE: ‘He has caused severe grief’: Read letter to judge from Belinda Temple’s father

Houston couple accused of hiring hit man to kill ex partners

On March 13, 2017, a Montrose veterinarian and her boyfriend were accused of trying to hire an undercover police officer -- posing as a hit man -- to kill their former partners.

Investigators said Valerie Busick McDaniel wanted her ex-husband killed, while Leon Philip Jacob, who was on bail, charged with stalking and assaulting his ex-girlfriend Meghan Verikas, sought to have Verikas kidnapped and later killed to prevent her from testifying against him in the assault case.

Investigators first learned that Jacob was seeking a hit man -- Houston City Councilman Michael Kubosh tipped them off (long story) -- and determined that he had agreed to pay a man to carry out the attack. That man agreed to cooperate with authorities. The man and an undercover officer posing as a hit man met with Jacob and McDaniel at an Olive Garden restaurant to discuss details of the plot. During the meeting, McDaniel asked the undercover officer to kill her husband, according to court records. The couple agreed to pay the men $20,000 and two Cartier watches for the hits, investigators said.

After that meeting, investigators notified both would-be victims of the plots against them. They agreed to cooperate with authorities and helped stage murder scenes that were photographed as proof the attacks were carried out.

Both Jacob and McDaniel were charged with solicitation of capital murder.

While out on bail, McDaniel jumped to her death from a balcony at her River Oaks condominium.

In 2018, Jacob was convicted of conspiring to have his ex-girlfriend and McDaniel’s ex-husband murdered. He is serving a life sentence in Huntsville.

MORE: Recordings McDaniel left before her death

NASA astronaut drives cross-country, attacks romantic rival

Former astronaut Lisa Nowak, left, looks on along with her attorney Cheney Mason during a hearing at the Orange County courthouse in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Aug. 24, 2007. Nowak, accused of attacking a romantic rival, asked a judge Friday to let her remove her electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, saying that it cuts her ankle and gets in the way of her military boot laces. (AP Photo/Red Huber, POOL) (AP2007)

In 2007, NASA astronaut Lisa M. Nowak drove more than 950 miles and donned a wig and trench coat to confront a woman she considered her rival for the affections of a space shuttle pilot.

A mother of three from League City who was married at the time, Nowak traveled from her home in Houston to the Orlando International Airport to meet with Colleen Shipman, a captain in the Air Force, who was flying to her own home in the Orlando area at the same time. Shipman was dating NASA astronaut Bill Oefelein, with whom Nowak also had a romantic relationship. After Shipman landed, Nowak followed her to a airport parking lot and assaulted her with pepper spray, the NYT reported.

When the police arrested Nowak, they found in her possession a steel mallet, a buck knife with a four-inch blade, a BB gun, latex gloves, a map to Captain Shipman’s house, and adult diapers, which Nowak said she wore so she would not have to stop to use the restroom, the NYT reported. Nowak later told police that spraying the pepper spray “was stupid,” and she had only wanted to scare Shipman into talking with her, the NYT reported.

Nowak was originally charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary. She ultimately pleaded guilty to reduced charges and avoided jail time.

Shipman and Oefelein announced their engagement in 2009 and wed in 2011. The couple now lives in Alaska with their son, born in 2012.

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.