'I didn't want to hurt him,' Valerie McDaniel says in message she shared

Audio recording was taped just before McDaniel committed suicide

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter, Debbie Strauss - Special Projects Producer

Valerie McDaniel balcony

HOUSTON - The woman accused of plotting to kill her ex-husband left an audio recording exclusively for Channel 2 News, before her sudden suicide.

Valerie McDaniel recorded nearly two hours of audio on an iPad, beginning after her arrest and ending just two days before she took her own life.

McDaniel left the iPad, along with a handwritten note, for a friend who lived in her building. That friend is KPRC's general manager, who handed over both items to police.

In the letter and the recordings, McDaniel said she wants her story shared.

In the recordings, McDaniel described how she met Leon Jacob, the man who is also charged in the murder-for-hire case.

And you can hear McDaniel describe how she ended up behind bars.

The recording starts on March 15 with the words, "Hey, my name is Valerie McDaniel."

The first recording was made five days after her arrest.

"I'm sitting outside,” the recording continues. “I wanted to take time and tell my story. … I can get it on the record. I hate the idea that everybody thinks I'm a monster."

It's a bone-chilling autobiography told in pieces over several weeks.

McDaniel, 48, was the mother of an 8-year-old daughter, who was the center of her universe.

"She's actually an extremely intelligent little girl with lovely manners and habits and a beautiful voice,” McDaniel said. “She wakes me up in the morning singing.”

A respected Houston veterinarian, McDaniel made headlines last month as the woman accused of plotting, with her boyfriend, to kill her ex-husband.

"(But) I didn't wake up one day and just say, 'Hey, I want to kill my ex-husband,'" she said.

McDaniel’s monologue was 1 hour, 44 minutes long.

She also left our general manager a handwritten note containing one final request. Part of the note stated, "I hope that you can use your talents to be sure the whole sordid story can be known."

It's clear from the recording that after her arrest, McDaniel felt the world collapse around her, but she clung to two things in particular: Her love for her daughter and her love for her co-defendant.

"I fell deeply in love with Leon during the the whole incident at the end of my marriage," she said.

McDaniel talks a lot about Jacob, a man nine years younger than she. Jacob is a doctor without a license and with a criminal history.

They met in 2014 on a quiet West University street. Jacob's mother was the McDaniels' next-door neighbor and Jacob was home visiting.

"He ran up to me almost immediately and introduced himself,” McDaniel said. “The cockiest [expletive] I had ever met in my life. And I was turned off immediately because you could tell he knew how beautiful he was."

McDaniel was still married, but as her divorce filing points out, she was unhappy with a husband she labeled as an adulterer.

She soon dove in headfirst with the neighbor's son.

"It was the most passionate, romantic moment in my life,” McDaniel said. “It was just the most amazing moment and I didn't feel guilty.”

A divorce would soon follow, but McDaniel contended her ex-husband was still causing problems.

McDaniel said she shared that story with Jacob and an acquaintance of his, who claimed he could help.

"He said he was going to try to help and get [expletive] to leave me alone," McDaniel said.

But McDaniel said the plan to intimidate her ex-husband was ineffective, so things escalated beyond her control.

"'I'm going to have a hard time controlling (him),' is what he was telling me,” McDaniel said. “‘I might have to hurt him. I might have to hit him,' and it just progressed."

Meeting to discuss plot

McDaniel said she was suspicious of a late change-of-plans in a meeting with a man who was allegedly hired to kill Jacob's ex.

"They called at the last minute and said it was too busy, meet them at Olive Garden, which was kind of a joke for us. We're like, 'Wait, Olive Garden?'" McDaniel said.

She said she believed the meeting would take place at the Post Oak Grill.

McDaniel said that she and Jacob, the original man contacted to kill Jacob's ex the couple had spoken with on several occasions, and a fourth unknown man were in attendance.

McDaniel said she ordered a salad and was suspicious of a man sitting near the foursome's table.

But McDaniel did not know at the time the unknown man was actually an undercover Houston Police Officer.

"One thing I hope people know and that comes out: At one point, when I was talking to the officer I said can't you just change him and make him be nice to me, and he cut me off real quickly and said, 'No. No. No. No.'" McDaniel said on the recording left for Channel 2.

At no point during the nearly two-hour recording does McDaniel ever flatly admit to wanting her ex-husband killed.

Instead, she repeatedly stated that she would not have wanted the father of her child to be hurt.

After learning she was the subject of a police sting, she appears to depict the scene at the Olive Garden as entrapment.

"He wasn't going to give me a chance to back down and I would have if he'd said that... I really would," McDaniel said on the recording.    

The last portion of the audio was recorded two days before McDaniel's death. The recordings and the note have been handed over to police.

"I didn't want to hurt (him),” McDaniel said. “I never did. It's (my daughter’s) dad. She loved him so much and I wouldn't. I'm so sorry about everything."

McDaniel committed suicide March 27. 

Jacob is due back in court next week and we've been getting interesting information daily on the case.

If you have information you'd like to share, call our tipline at 713-223-TIPS. You can also email investigates@click2houston.com.

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