Houston murder-for-hire plot: Leon Jacob's troubled past
HOUSTON – Houston veterinarian Dr. Valerie McDaniel and her boyfriend, Leon Jacob, are accused of trying to hire hitmen to kill their exes.
McDaniel is out of jail on bond. The charges are her first run-in with the law.
However, Channel 2 Investigates continues to uncover more details about Jacob's past, including serious criminal charges that he has faced in several other states, and more information about his medical resident background.
"Mr. Jacob is a well-respected doctor here in Houston, Texas," said Jacob's defense attorney, Paul Morgan. "This is a terrible case, but we're going to be moving forward and setting the record straight."
Jacob, 39, is represented by Morgan and attorney George Parnham. He remains in the Harris County jail, charged with two counts of solicitation of capital murder.
"Mr. Jacob was trying to get his ex-girlfriend killed," Harris County prosecutor Nathan Noss said.
Jacob graduated from medical school in the Caribbean island of Grenada in 2005. He came home to Houston and was admitted to a residency program at the University of Texas. But he left in 2010 and his Texas physician-in-training certificate was terminated.
Jacob moved to Ohio and entered a residency program at Northside Hospital in Youngstown. He ran into problems there and was fired in March 2011.
According to court documents, supervisors wrote that he lied, lacked medical knowledge and lacked professional behavior.
He was put on probation, asked to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and was later found to be an immediate threat to patient safety. Jacob appealed the decision and lost.
Jacob was arrested in 2012 for burglarizing the home of a hospital administrator who testified against him in the lawsuit. He pleaded guilty.
READ: Burglary court documents
Jacob's wife of 11 years, Annie Jacob, filed for divorce in 2013.
READ: Divorce records
Her attorney wrote: "Leon is guilty of extreme and repeated mental cruelty without cause or provocation by Annie."
He was arrested in 2014 in Illinois, where Annie Jacob lived, charged with stalking and cyberstalking her. Court documents said he made repeated telephone calls, sent text messages and emails and threatened bodily harm.
READ: Stalking court records
By 2016, signs of financial trouble emerged. Jacob filed for bankruptcy in Houston.
READ: Petitions for bankruptcy
According to the bankruptcy filing, he told the court that he was running a medical business
at an apartment that he also listed as his West University home.
New criminal allegations were made in January when Jacob's ex-girlfriend claimed that he attacked her.
Investigators wrote: "She began to scream and the defendant then grabbed her face with his hands and applied pressure, busting her upper lip (and) causing her pain. The defendant stated, 'Shut up,you dumb (expletive).'"
Jacob told a different story, saying that his ex-girlfriend was throwing things and he was trying to calm her down. She got a protective order and he was charged with assault.
Weeks later, on Feb. 16, he was charged with stalking the same woman.
At some point, Jacob met Valerie McDaniel, the popular Montrose veterinarian.
"She is a compassionate, caring person," one of her clients told Channel 2 Investigates. "She is extremely good at her job, extremely bright. As long as she's licensed to practice, she'll be my vet."
McDaniel divorced her husband last year.
McDaniel's divorce attorney in the case was Jacob's mother.
Jacob and McDaniel went to an Olive Garden restaurant on the Southwest Freeway near Buffalo Speedway on March 8.
"We were informed a couple of weeks ago of the defendants trying to hire an assassin," Noss said.
Investigators said they met with a man to discuss a plan to kill their exes. The man was an undercover police officer.
"The co-defendant said he was looking for somebody to kill a witness for his pending stalking charge," court documents said.
"Well, they were originally meeting with Mr. Jacob to discuss the undercover plot against killing his ex-girlfriend," Noss said of the meeting at Olive Garden. "While there, I guess Ms. McDaniel, who had a relationship with Mr. Jacob, was also there. She then brought up the fact that she has an issue and wanted her ex-husband to be murdered. I can't comment as to whether she was peer pressured."
Investigators said she asked the undercover officer to kill her husband, and agreed to pay him $10,000 as part of an installment payment toward the hit.
"The plan was to shoot him in what would look like a carjacking gone bad," the district attorney's office said. "Following the meeting, both would-be victims were notified of the plots against them. They agreed to cooperate with authorities and helped them stage murder and kidnap scenes that were photographed as proof the attacks had been carried out."
McDaniel is due back in court on March 28.
Jacob's next court hearing is in April, when attorneys will ask a judge to consider bond.
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