Vigil held for veterinarian who committed suicide after being charged in murder-for-hire plot
HOUSTON – An outpouring of support was evident at a vigil held for deceased doctor Valerie McDaniel -- a well-known and popular veterinarian who took her own life in the midst of major legal trouble.
On Friday evening, the focus was on the woman who touched so many lives, clients and patients while she was alive.
"She treated your pets, your animals like they were her own," says former client Judy Meitzen.
Another former client, Greg Audel, shared the same sentiment.
"Just had an incredible kindness and gentleness," Audel said. "And this was not a business. This was a passion. This was a community."
The community gathered outside McDaniel's Montrose Veterinary Clinic to tell stories of support, to pray and to light candles in her memory.
Those who knew her were in complete shock when she died after jumping from her River Oaks high-rise on Monday.
Her suicide came just weeks after Harris County investigators arrested McDaniel and her boyfriend in an alleged murder-for-hire plot to kill her ex-husband and her boyfriend's former girlfriend.
Many still find the charges hard to believe.
"You don't know someone for 17 years and see that kind of compassionate caring person," Meitzen said. "That was way out of character, that was not her."
Her family, friends, employees and former clients showed up on Friday night to support each other and to support McDaniel's legacy.
"I want people to know the Valerie we knew," Aaudel said. "That was a lovely, lovely woman."
"Just one of a kind. She's Valerie McDaniel," her cousin Cody Bernard said. "There's only one Valerie McDaniel and there will never be another one. Just really an amazing person."
McDaniel's boyfriend, Leon Jacob remains in jail.
Her family is holding a private family funeral and is planning a memorial service in May.
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