The Olive Garden isn't exactly the place that comes to mind when one thinks of "best spot to meet your hitman," but police allege that's exactly what happened in Texas. A Houston couple have been charged with solicitation of capital murder in connection with an alleged plot to have both their exes killed. The Chronicle reports veterinarian Valerie McDaniel, 48 and mother to an 8-year-old, and her live-in boyfriend, Leon Jacob, 39, appeared before a judge Monday in the case. McDaniel's bail was set at $50,000; Jacob was denied bail, because (warning: convoluted) he was already on bail, having been charged with stalking and assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Hence, in his case, the hitman, or so a probable cause statement cited by Click2Houston asserts: Jacob "says he was looking for somebody to kill a witness for his pending stalking charge."
It's unclear why McDaniel was allegedly targeting her ex, but the couple "unwittingly ... of course end up with a hitman who's working for the Houston PD," Harris County Assistant DA Tom Berg tells KTRK. Prosecutors say police arranged for an undercover officer to pose as a hitman, and that at a meeting at Olive Garden the couple offered to pay $20,000 and two Cartier watches. McDaniel's husband was allegedly to be killed in what was supposed to appear as a bungled carjacking; he and Jacob's ex were alerted as to what was going on and agreed to pose for photographs that supposedly depicted their murder and kidnapping, respectively. McDaniel and Jacob allegedly then forked over part of the payment, and were arrested on Friday. Says Berg of McDaniel, "It's unusual to find a person who is concerned about animals but is less concerned about humans." (An unusual study zeroed in on what makes a good hit man.)