Wanda Webb Holloway (born 1954) is a woman from Channelview, Texas, known for attempting to hire a hitman to kill the mother of her daughter's junior high school cheerleading rival. The plan ultimately failed when the man she asked to perform the hit turned her in to the authorities.
Holloway had an intense desire for her daughter Shanna to be a cheerleader. In 1991, when Shanna narrowly missed out on a spot on her junior high school squad, Holloway asked her ex-brother-in-law, Terry Harper, to hire a hitman to kill Verna Heath, mother of the 14 year old girl who had beaten her into the squad. Holloway believed that Heath's daughter would be so devastated by her mother's death that she would drop out of the cheerleading team, thereby giving the spot to Shanna.
However, unknown to Holloway, Harper had gone straight to the police after Holloway approached him; she was arrested the next day.
Key evidence in the case for the prosecution, headed by Mike Anderson, came down to tapes provided by Terry Harper along with his testimony. These tapes revealed the words of Holloway offering her diamond earrings in exchange for never seeing Verna Heath in Channelview again. The defense lawyer, Troy McKinney, argued that Holloway’s ex-husband, Tony Harper, had conspired with his brother to frame Holloway. McKinney pointed to the divorce between Tony Harper and Wanda Holloway in 1980 and an ensuing custody battle over their children.
Holloway was convicted of solicitation of capital murder in the 1991 trial and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. However, the conviction was overturned when it was discovered one of the jurors was on probation for cocaine possession and should have never been allowed to serve on the jury; and a mistrial was declared.
Holloway hired a new defense lawyer, Jack Zimmerman. This time Wanda Holloway admitted to the crime, pleading "no contest" (nolo contendere), and Zimmerman successfully negotiated a plea deal for Holloway.
On September 9, 1996, state district court judge George Godwin sentenced Holloway to ten years in prison, with a fine of $10,000. On top of this, Holloway settled a civil suit filed by the Heath family. On October 2, 1994, Holloway agreed to pay a total of $150,000 to the victims. It was decided in court that $70,000 would be given to Verna and her husband, $30,000 to the children of Verna, and $50,000 to cover the legal expenses of the case.
She was released on March 1, 1997 after serving just six months of her sentence. The judge ordered her to serve the remaining 9.5 years on probation, and to complete 1,000 hours of community service.
In the media
Reenactments made about the incident include:
- The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, a 1993 HBO film which starred Holly Hunter as Wanda Holloway.
- Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, a 1992 ABC film with Lesley Ann Warren as Wanda Holloway.
- Mother Love, Deadly Love, a novel by Anne Maier written in 1994
- "Momsters: When Moms Go Bad", Season 1, Episode 1: A Killer Routine, television program on ID.
- Pesce, Carolyn (September 2, 1991). "'Pompon mom' gets 15 years". USA Today.
- Macintyre, Ben (October 7, 1994). "Deadly rivals agree payout". The Times.
- Koiden, Michelle (March 1, 1997). "'Cheerleader mom' freed after serving six months". Abilene Reporter-News. Archived from the original on August 11, 2009. Retrieved May 26, 2011.