Daughter of Wanda Holloway Speaks Out

Talk show host Phil Donahue, right, interviews Wanda Webb Holloway, left, and her daughter Shanna Harper Friday, Sept. 20, 1991 in New York on NBC’s “Donahue.” (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler) In 1991, Wanda Holloway, the mother of a 13-year-old aspiring Texas cheerleader, was arrested for plotting to murder the mother of a rival cheerleader. Holloway had hoped that when her daughter's rival suffered the loss of her mother, she would leave the squad, clearing a space for Holloway's daughter, Shanna.

Fortunately, her plan didn't work. The hit man Wanda attempted to hire recorded her propositions and turned them over to the police. Wanda was arrested, and the bizarre nature of the plot and twisted logic behind it turned both her and her daughter into media sensations.

While nobody was physically hurt, the emotional toll on daughter Shanna was severe. She hadn't spoken publicly about the scandal until recently, when she sat down with People magazine. Now 34, Shanna told the magazine that she never actually wanted to be a cheerleader. It was her mother who drove her to become one. The U.K.'s Daily Mail summarizes the People story.

Her mom's overbearing nature and obsession, Shanna says, made the entire process a chore rather than fun. She began to hate cheerleading. "At some point it clicked; this isn't fun. But I was so close to my mom. She was my world, and I wanted to please her," Shanna said to People magazine.

Following her mom's arrest, Shanna's life became a nightmare. She became depressed and suffered anxiety attacks. High school, already traumatic for many teens, became almost unbearable. "It was horrible.I was hurt, angry and confused. It ruined my world," she said. Her mother ended up serving six months of her 10-year sentence. Their story was made into several movies, including one starring Oscar winner Holly Hunter as Holloway.

Now a married mother of two and a teacher, Shanna says she is speaking up an effort to put her traumatic past behind her. She does stay in touch with her mother, but admits their relationship is far from ideal.

When she asked her mother to explain why she plotted the way she did, her mother didn't have an answer. "She said it 'was a mistake. I was wrong. If I could take it back, I would. And I'm sorry.' So you just accept that, and move on."