Legendary detective continues crusade in famous murder case


HOUSTON (AP) — Legendary investigator Johnny Bonds, hero of the 1983 book “The Cop Who Wouldn’t Quit,” can rest for another five years.

The man he helped put in prison twice, once for a triple murder and then again for money laundering, has again been denied parole, Bonds said week.

“If there’s ever been a guy who deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison, it’s him,” the retired detective told the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1RXsrWF ).

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He was speaking of Walter Waldhauser, one of Houston’s most notorious criminals. “He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. I never saw anybody work so hard to get over on people,” Bonds said.

Waldhauser confessed in 1981 to his role in one of Houston’s most infamous murder cases in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence.

Nine years later, Waldhauser was released on parole and changed his name to Michael Lee Davis. He eventually moved to Dallas and started running financial scams.

A decade after his release, he was sentenced to 60 years for money laundering on evidence that he stole more than $5 million.

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Because it was a nonviolent crime, Waldhauser came up for parole just seven years later.

That year, Bonds marshaled forces to convince the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to deny release and put it off for five years.

Bonds did it again in 2011.

And earlier this year, he began a similar campaign by reaching out to his long list of friends and contacts to write letters protesting release.

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That effort proved successful last week when the parole board again refused to set Waldhauser free, and postponed the next decision until 2021.

Bonds was vacationing in rural Arkansas when he got the news.

“I’ve got another five years that I don’t have to worry about the SOB being on the streets,” he said with a laugh. “My goal is to outlive him.”

Waldhauser is 63.

Bonds, now 68, retired from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 2008 after 40 years in law enforcement.

His legacy became inextricably linked with Waldhauser’s fate after the detective spent two years unraveling the 1979 murders of John and Diana Wanstrath and their 14-month-old son, Kevin.

Bonds was able to show the slayings were intentional killings orchestrated by Diana Wanstrath’s adopted brother, not a murder-suicide as originally thought. He also showed that the adopted brother, Markham Duff-Smith, had hired triggerman Allen Wayne Janecka to kill the family for inheritance money. Duff-Smith and Janecka both landed on death row and have been executed for their roles.

Bonds was also able to prove that Waldhauser was involved in Diana Wanstrath’s mother’s death, which was ruled a suicide five years earlier.

Waldhauser, who confessed, acted as the middleman who hired and paid Janecka in both incidents.

The saga became the book “The Cop Who Wouldn’t Quit by Rick Nelson,” which cemented Bonds place in Houston’s crime lore.