The Bizarre Case Of The Texas Cheerleader Murder Mom

“We should take mothers in high seas and drown them there, they are as poisonous as lead in the air.” —Philip K. Dick, The Dark Haired Girl

In A Nutshell

Everybody has heard the saying, “Don’t mess with Texas.” But you shouldn’t mess with Texas moms either, especially if they’re crazy. Take Wanda Holloway, for example. When her daughter didn’t make the local cheer squad, she devised a murderous plot to make sure her kid would become a star.

The Whole Bushel

Growing up, Wanda Webb wanted to be a cheerleader. Football is a Texas institution, and Wanda wanted the fame and adoration that came with a pair of pom-poms. Unfortunately, an overbearing Baptist father and a teenage pregnancy crushed her dreams of high school glory. Instead, she got married, had two kids, and eventually divorced her first husband and married a man named C.D. Holloway. On the surface, Wanda seemed like your average Texas housewife . . . only this Lone Star mom had a serious obsession.

Wanda was determined that her daughter Shanna would become the best cheerleader in Channelview, Texas. Wanda signed Shanna up for gymnastics and forced her to practice jumps and backflips constantly. And when she wasn’t coaching her kid, she was buying beautiful clothes and throwing elaborate parties for her. Why? Well, she wanted her daughter to be the most popular girl in junior high because cheerleaders were selected by student vote. Finally, in 1990, Shanna tried out for the eighth-grade squad, but didn’t make the cut. The spot went to Shanna’s neighbor, Amber Heath—and that’s when Wanda snapped.

Consumed with jealousy, Wanda went to her former brother-in-law, a guy named Terry Harper. Terry had a criminal record, so Wanda assumed he probably knew people with a very particular set of skills. In other words, she asked him to hire a hitman to murder Amber Heath’s mom, Verna. Wanda thought with Verna dead, Amber would be too crushed to focus on cheerleading, leaving her position open for Shanna. Only Terry was (thankfully) no fool. Instead of calling up an assassin, he went to the police instead.

Wanting to catch Wanda red-handed, the cops gave Terry a microphone to record their conversations and heard her offer $2,500 to whack Verna Heath. Those recordings came in handy when Wanda was arrested in 1991. The jury found her guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, but while she was sentenced to 15 years behind bars, her verdict was eventually overturned due to a technicality. During her second trial, she pled guilty and only served six months of a 10-year sentence.

While Holloway never achieved her dreams of cheerleading glory, she did become something of a minor celebrity thanks to her crazy murder plot. Her story was turned into two TV movies, one of which starred Holly Hunter as the deranged maniacal mom. As for Wanda herself, today she’s active in her daughter’s life and even helps take care of the grandkids. Let’s hope none of them ever want to be cheerleaders.

Show Me The Proof

People: The Texas Cheerleader Case: A Daughter’s Painful Journey
True Crime: The Texas Cheerleader Murder Mom Wanda Holloway
NY Times: Texas Mother Gets 15 Years In Murder Plot

  • Lisa 39

    Crazy, just crazy. I’m glad that she didn’t succeed. I feel for the daughter tho, how do you go back to school everyday with everyone knowing that your moms a nutjob who tried to kill your friends mom. Way to go Wanda, crazy bitch.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Never trust a broad named Wanda

      • Lisa 39

        I guess you can’t, that woman was crazy, like bat shit crazy!

  • TheMadHatter

    If it was me I would totally call that guy “CD”. Way better. And that’s what I call my brother with the same first two initials 😀

  • Clyde Barrow

    Wanda learned the first rule of Criminality 101 the hard way…

    Rule #1. Never trust a criminal..especially to hire a hitman for you.

    • Tim Johnson

      There was no hard way- she’s free.

  • Hillyard

    I remember reading about this in the newspaper. I knew there were crazy people in Texas but this one really flipped me out at the time. Going to all that trouble to get her daughter on the cheerleading squad and contemplating murder when she failed.
    For you young people out there newspapers are where we got out information about the world before the internet. We read them while winding our watches.

    • Clyde Barrow

      Texas, especially West Texas, puts a HUGE emphasis on football and football stadiums. They’ll easily spend a hundred million dollars on a HIGH SCHOOL stadium! It’s a status symbol to those folks, who’s son was on what line of what squad. Nevermind mathematics, science, or literature.

      But of course, they’re worried about Mexicans….

  • oouchan

    Yeah….I blame the mentality they grew up with. Of which I’m aware of having seen it first hand. Gotta be pretty at all costs, be in pageants, plays, gotta be the star. Show off what you got. It’s sickening. Then shit like this happens.


  • Tim Johnson

    How do you solicit murder and then serve 6 months? I mean, if there was some ‘technicality’, fucking FIX IT, but don’t let someone like this free!

    • Martin

      Easy, live in America!

  • Giang Huỳnh Hoài

    This story reflects two failed attempts at parenting. First her dad then herself as a mom. If you are not ready to be parents you should not have kids. I am now acting as a role model for a kid 9 years my age. He is 12 and I am 21. His parents left each other when he was 6 and his dad wants nothing to do with him. Just look at how he idolise me make me want to cry because he is thirsty for a great father figure. Sometimes people gain years of life but when things go down they show the decision making capability of a teenager at best. The ultimate victims are always their off springs

  • Martin

    Don’t mess with Texas? I guess these hill billy’s, and red necks have never been to Chicago! We can rip you a new asshole, and send you back cut up in ribbons. Don’t FUCK with Chicago!!!