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Veterinarian charged in murder-for-hire plot leaps to death from River Oaks high rise

HOUSTON -- A prominent veterinarian at the center of a shocking murder-for-hire plot leapt to her death Monday from the 7th floor of her River Oaks high-rise apartment building, Houston police confirm.

Valerie McDaniel, the owner of the Montrose Veterinarian Clinic, committed suicide in the 2200 block of Willowick.

McDaniel, 48, and her live-in boyfriend, 39-year-old Leon Jacob, were arrested after allegedly soliciting a hitman to kill both of their ex-lovers.

According to investigators, the couple offered the hitman $10,000 and a Cartier watch for each of the murders, but unbeknownst to them, the hitman was actually an undercover officer working on a sting operation.

Investigators said, originally, Jacob wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend. He was out on bond after being charged with stalking the woman. Investigators said Jacob wanted his ex "taken care of" so she could not testify against him in court.

Then McDaniel joined in, allegedly requesting the assassination of her ex-husband. She wanted to disguise the murder as a carjacking-gone wrong.

Investigators said Jacob, at first, wanted to take part in the killings, then decided against it.

Authorities immediately got in contact with the intended targets, staging the murders with fake photos.

Afterward, they moved in to arrest Jacob and McDaniel and charged them both with solicitation of capital murder.

McDaniel was released from jail after posting a $50,000 bond, while her lover remained behind bars with no bond.

She was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, but charges will now be dismissed.

“Once we have confirmation of her death, meaning a certificate of death from the coroner's office, then we will dismiss the case,” said prosecutor Nathan Moss.

Det. Jay P. Villareal of HPD Homicide said there is no suspicion of foul play. Police found notes she left in her condo detailing her final wishes, in addition to sealed letters addressed to her family.

“It's a very tragic thing for the family, especially for her daughter. It was shocking to us,” said Moss.

According to Jacob's attorney, George Parnham, Jacobs is devastated over her death.

“Use your imagination when I say devastation,” Parnham said.

Jacob will be back to court Wednesday to request bond.