Using an iPad, Valerie McDaniel started an audio diary to record her deepest thoughts. In her entries, the 48-year-old talked about her daughter, her dating adventures as a new divorcee — and a dark secret.
“I hate the idea that everybody thinks I’m a monster,” McDaniel says in the recording she made on March 15, 2017.
And in her last recording made on March 25, McDaniel says, “I never wanted to hurt anyone.”
McDaniel was a veterinarian living in a two-bedroom condo at a luxury high-rise in the wealthy Houston neighborhood of River Oaks. When she wasn’t treating animals at the veterinary clinic she owned, friends and colleagues said McDaniel spent weekends on Tiki Island near Galveston, where she regularly hosted friends at her beach home.
She had been married to her business partner, Marion “Mack” McDaniel, but the two divorced after 17 years together and agreed to share custody of their now 9-year-old daughter. Friends said she was miserable in the marriage and her husband was never around.
“She would be very hurt by her husband,” said Dr. Brittany King, a veterinarian who worked for Valerie McDaniel. “It would be… a text or a phone call and then she would be in tears, and it’s so hard to watch someone in that much pain.”
She was largely unhappy until she was introduced to Leon Jacob, the now 40-year-old son of her neighbor and divorce attorney.
“I was completely turned off immediately by his attitude,” McDaniel recalled in a diary entry about meeting Jacob for the first time. “I was drawn to him but disgusted at the same time.”
But eventually, Jacob won her over. When they were first intimate, McDaniel recalled in a diary entry that, “it was like a movie moment… It was the most passionate, romantic moment in my life.”
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Jacob moved into her condo and the two began living together early this year. In an interview with “20/20,” Jacob said they cooked together, even shared bank accounts and told people they were getting married.
But on March 27, McDaniel jumped off her seventh-floor balcony to her death. She left behind multiple notes detailing her final wishes and recorded her final words on her iPad, saying, “I have two great loves in my life — I have my…