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S31.E03: Operation Murder (Leon Jacob/Valerie McDaniel) 2017.10.14

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Valerie McDaniel, a veterinarian, and Leon Jacob, a surgeon, quickly fell in love and even talked of marriage. Jacob was an up-and-coming doctor with plenty of confidence. She was newly single after getting a divorce from her ex-husband, Marion “Mack” McDaniel. But there were some problems. The McDaniels were in the midst of an ugly custody battle, while Jacob was facing felony charges for stalking an ex-girlfriend. If he was found guilty on those charges, it could have upended his medical career. Houston police say that’s when Jacob sought the help of a someone he thought was a hit man to eliminate the problems.

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I had a hard time getting invested in this case.  First, the audio on most of the recording (aside from the diary recordings, which were written out on screen) were really muffled and made it hard to follow what was being said.  Second, it was kind of all over the place; the narration was kind of ambivalent on whether the first "hit man" was a reliable narrator, I had no idea why the young niece was interviewed for about 5 seconds, and it was weird not to really hear from anyone in the ex girlfriend's camp.  Then, finally, there isn't even any resolution with regard to the trial.  It seems this one should have been shelved and brought out when the verdict was reached.

However, ITA Jacob is a sociopath.  And apparently shampoo is banned in jails now?

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What I found so astounding is that the doctor and the veterinarian didn't think that it's kind of risky to have TWO people knowing that you hired a hit man.  And you discuss it at The Olive Garden?  AND they don't realize that if her husband is murdered, THEN his ex-wife is killed.......law enforcement is going to think that is TOO coincidental.  I mean.......how dense.  I'm amazed at supposedly smart people who are NOT smart at all.  It's funny that people who plan murders for hire, never seem to research and see how other have gotten caught.  They blindly go in and make the same dumb mistakes. AND they just can't get it into their heads that when a spouse if murdered, the other one is examined under a microscope.  They just think they'll deny involvement and police will go away.  lol    MANY get caught meeting and being recorded.  lol  I suppose that's a good thing.  They did get stopped.  What a tragedy.  There were so many lives that were impacted. 

Edited by SunnyBeBe.
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At least the fake crime scene photos were slightly more realistic than the case they showed on Dateline where the podiatrist hired someone to beat up insurance investigators and police staged the photos.

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I know it's not fair to judge somebody based on his/her worst decision, but I had a hard time ignoring the fact that the veterinarian hired the hit man to kill her ex over unlimited salad and breadsticks at the Olive Garden. Then she goes on to malign her ex-husband in her diary as if she had no other choice.  Oh, he's trying to come to an equitable agreement on custody?  Well, how dare he??    I guess instead of working together with him in the best interest of the child, the better option is to get rid of her daughter's father altogether.

3 hours ago, Lizzing said:

it was kind of all over the place

Definitely agree with this.  I feel like we didn't get enough information to understand about the divorce and the acrimony with ex.  Or why this supposedly amazing person who had family/friends with nothing but nice things to say about her wound up in an intense relationship with Leon the failed surgeon who has pending charges from one of his exes.  Something's not adding up there.  I mean, maybe Leon's influence was enough to make that happen, but I would be surprised if that changed her into a completely different person.

3 hours ago, Lizzing said:

the narration was kind of ambivalent on whether the first "hit man" was a reliable narrator

I totally agree with this.  In fact, the only reason he got involved at all with the sting operation was because Leon came looking for him after he took off with Leon's money.  It sounds to me like his big plan was to disappear with the $9k, not to "be the hero" and save anybody's life by going to the cops.  They tried to lend him an air of credibility by talking about his military service...10 years ago...but then they undercut that by mentioning the theft charges levied by his roommate.  Good luck getting that job with Houston PD.  I'm guessing they're not dying to let you on the force any time soon!

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I was not thrilled with the last bit, her memorial service.  I don't want to feel sorry for her. She is not a victim.  Also, she knew Leon was going after his ex. so good person is a stretch.

Edited by applecrisp.
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I don't believe the wonderful veterinarian Valerie was brainwashed by creepy Jacob as the show suggested.  I believe the two were both adults and responsible for their decisions and it was a 50/50 collaboration.

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I wasn't impressed with the vet either.  And I even wondered about whether she really did keep TAKING her husband back after discovering the infidelity.  It seemed outrageous.  Did it really happen?  

And the way she described Jacob.....her eyesight must have been a little distorted. I didn't see what she did.  She thought this man was handsome like a god......lol.  Really? 

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I want to feel bad for her but then I remember if they’d hired a real hitman she’d be a murderer.   And Jacob wasn’t attractive.

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On a shallow note the undercover officers fake(?) beard looked disgusting, I kept wishing they would just stay with the blurred look.

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The first time I saw photos of Jacob I said he looked creepy.  That was before I knew he was a suspect for anything.  Why did she think he was attractive?  I suspected as the show went on that the Vet lady committed suicide.  The show was really all over the place.  But that I figured out.

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I hope the prosecutor is full-on ready, because there is no way that Leon should ever see daylight again.  I'm 50/50 on Valerie.  Yes, I believe that she was an adult and was responsible for her own decisions and choices, but I also believe that Leon is toxic and being in a relationship with him probably did warp her thinking and behavior.  They lived together, and she herself said in one of the diary entries that she was lonely.  Over time, I think the constant presence of Leon could have very well caused her to believe that some behaviors which she previously might have thought were unacceptable now in fact were.

I also think that's why she committed suicide.  She knew that she had gone so far over the edge of decent behavior that she didn't/couldn't see any way out.  I think if she was a sociopath like Leon, she would still be here, just biding time until court like he is.  She shouldn't be absolved of her role in this, but I call complete and total bullshit on Leon's claim that Valerie was the mastermind.  Ain't no way.

Juries in Texas usually havr no qualms about handling these situations.  I hope they handle Leon in a similar manner...as much as the law will allow them to keep him caged and away from society.

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On 10/15/2017 at 3:04 PM, SunnyBeBe said:

I wasn't impressed with the vet either.  And I even wondered about whether she really did keep TAKING her husband back after discovering the infidelity.  It seemed outrageous.  Did it really happen?  

Exactly my question too. For whatever reason this show seemed bent on portraying Valerie as a victim. They indicated Valerie's husband cheated on her again and again (with her best friend even!) and that all this pushed her over the edge and into the waiting arms of the psychopath, Jacob. Maybe Valerie's ex-husband was a lousy husband and maybe he was unfaithful, but I'd want more than the diaries of a woman trying to justify why she hired a hit man to kill the father of her child before I'm buy into her interpretation of that marriage.

She didn't seem to give any thought about what impact hiring a hit man or killing herself would have on her daughter. She sucks as a human as far as I'm concerned.  

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It was very convenient to blame Valerie since she is dead .  NOt saying she is innocent, just that Leon probably got the ball rolling. 

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Oh, but, Jacob was a gentleman.  He put his own ex-wife's murder on hold, so that his lover's ex could get killed first.  (eye roll)

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On 10/15/2017 at 5:47 PM, biakbiak said:

On a shallow note the undercover officers fake(?) beard looked disgusting, I kept wishing they would just stay with the blurred look.

Hilarious! 😂 Same here

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