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Texas Cheerleader Murder Mom: Wanda Webb Holloway

I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

Wanda Webb was born to be a prima donna. Despite meager beginnings and a repressive, conservative father, she dreamed of being somebody in her small Texas a town. Wanda was determined to one day be a person of wealth and power.

Getting pregnant at the age of sixteen brought those plans to a complete halt. Wanda wed the baby’s father, Tony Harper, in a shotgun ceremony. Soon thereafter, the couple welcomed their first child, Shane Harper, into the world. Shane’s birth would be followed within a couple of years by that of a little sister, Shanna Harper.

As is a common outcome of teenage marriages, the couple divorced amid allegations of excessive drinking, physical abuse, and infidelity. Wanda retained custody of the children.

Wanda Holloway

Wanda Holloway

Divorce provided Wanda with a second chance at seeking a wealthy, powerful man to marry. Her having custody allowed Wanda to mold and shape her daughter to be the type of girl she had always dreamed of being.

Wanda accomplished her goal of convincing a wealthy man to marry her when she wed C.D. Holloway. She now would have the financial means to achieve her goals in regards to Shana.
While older brother Shane often lived in the shadows, Shanna was provided with everything necessary to make her who her mother wanted her to be. She had the finest clothes, dance lessons, and hosted parties of large magnitudes – designed by Mom, of course, to gain Shanna popularity with her peers.

In 1991, Shanna was attending the Junior High School in Channelview, Texas, and eligible to try out for cheerleading. Like everything else in Texas, football is a big deal and to be a football cheerleader is as close to being a hometown sports hero as a gal can get. Wanda desperately wanted her daughter to be one of those girls. It was her chance to be someone, even if it was vicariously through her daughter.

Wanda had groomed Shana for just this sort of opportunity and felt certain she would be chosen for the squad. To add extra assurance, however, Wanda spent hours volunteering at the school to gain favor with staff and students.

It would all be for nothing.

Amber Heath with her mother, Verna following the trial of Wanda Holloway

Amber Heath with her mother, Verna following the trial of Wanda Holloway

Cheerleaders were chosen by student vote. Although Shanna’s best friend, Amber Heath, was elected to the squad, Shanna was not. Wanda was infuriated and ranted to anyone who would listen about the injustices of her daughter not be chosen for a spot on the cheer squad.

Wanda had always had a jealous streak but it was darker this time. An indescribable evil would be born of this uncontrolled emotion.

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Mama Has A Plan

Despite having been divorced many years, Wanda still maintained contact with Tony’s family and now she went in search of his brother.

Terry Harper had a reputation for being an excessive drinker who often physically fought with his wives and girlfriends. More than once Terry had been a guest of the local jail but he had never been a murderer, so it’s a mystery why Wanda would turn to Terry to carry out her deadly plot. One can only assume, Wanda believed Terry, always in dire straights for money, would be eager to earn a nice fee and get him out of debt.

Whatever her reason may have been, Wanda approached Terry with a plan to kill Verna Heath, Amber’s mother. Wanda believe if Verna was murdered, Amber would be too devastated to continue on with cheerleading; thus creating a vacate spot and Shanna would be a shoo-in.

What Wanda didn’t count on is Terry, while he might enjoy hitting the bottle, was no killer and his conscience sent him straight to local authorities.

After several recorded meetings, Wanda made headlines across the nation when she was arrested for on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. She soon became known as The Texas Cheerleader Murder Mom.

Bars Not Bleachers

Following a trial in late 1991, Wanda Holloway was convicted on charges of solicitation of capital murder and was sentenced to 15 years. An appeal, however, would overturn Wanda's conviction on a technicality; that is, a juror had failed to disclose the fact he was on probation at voir dire. Instead of taking a chance with a second trial, Wanda pleaded no contest and a judge sentenced her to ten years. She served only six months of the ten year term before being released on probation on March 1, 1997. She was also ordered to complete 1,000 hours of community service.

While she was in jail, C.D. quietly divorced Wanda. Although most assume it has to do with Wanda’s actions, the reasons have never been publicly stated. Before his death in 2006, C.D. had remarried.

Wanda maintains a very low profile these days. Some unconfirmed sources say she is living in Dallas, Texas.

Verna Heath is now a prepaid legal services sales associate. She continues to live in the home on Wrotham Lane.

And the young girls, Shanna and Amber, about whom this whole ordeal surrounded, have both gone on to marry and have children of their own. Both still live in Texas.

© 2016 Kim Bryan

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