HOUSTON - Leon Jacob's murder-for-hire plot made headlines around Houston for more than a year.
Jacob abused his ex-girlfriend, Meghan Verikas, then tried to hire a hit man to kill her. In March 2018, he was sentenced to life in prison.
"Dateline NBC" aired a special broadcast about the case.
In an exclusive interview, Verikas detailed to KPRC Channel 2 the challenges she had getting away and finding a new place to live.
Verikas and Jacob were a couple for three years. But in early 2017, the relationship was crumbling.
Jacob was accused of assaulting her and she knew she had to get away.
"I wasn't going to allow that to happen," Verikas told KPRC Channel 2 reporter Ryan Korsgard. "I wasn't going to be treated that way anymore."
But breaking free wasn't easy. They shared an apartment and a bank account.
"I really had nowhere else to go, I don't have family here," Verikas said. "I left everything. I left my clothes. I left my dog."
Verikas manages a hotel. Her work-family was her support, so she lived out of hotel rooms.
"I'm fortunate I work in a hotel and I can get discounts and I had the means to pay for things," Verikas said.
But finding a new permanent place? She faced challenge after challenge.
"They wouldn't let me out of my lease, even with the documentation from the Houston police," she said.
The complex played hardball, wanting her to pay out the rest of her lease.
"Leon continued to harass me and actually went back to the apartment complex. The apartment complex called me and told me to come back. If he had gotten in there and decided to kick the door in, I would be liable as well," Verikas said.
The apartment complex sent Meghan a letter.
The law in this area is specific.
A victim of domestic violence must hand over a signed protective order and provide a written 30-days' notice in order to break a lease.
In Verikas' case, her complex would not accept the initial application for the protective order and the complex wrote she did not provide the written 30-day notice.
The complex sued her instead.
"But it took everything happening to me and for this to make national news for them to drop it," Verikas said.
Verikas found an unexpected ally in her fight. Jacob's ex-wife told her about AVDA, a group that advocates for victims of domestic violence.
"At AVDA, we provide free legal resources for victims of domestic abuse; we do protective orders, divorce, child support," said Sherri Kendall, CEO of AVDA. "We also work with the offender. We know if any offender doesn't get help, they'll continue to make more victims."
AVDA also offers free counseling and emergency financial assistance.
"I couldn't imagine what would've happened if I didn't have the funds, or if I had small children," Verikas said. "This is why people end up getting killed, because they don't have the ability to leave."
She has this advice for anyone trying to escape an abusive relationship: "It can be done. It's definitely not easy. But ... make a plan and stick to that plan. You're worth it."
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