Making a Killing

In the '70s, Walter Waldhauser arranged four contract murders. Nearly 20 years later, he has a new name and a new line of work -- but he still generates a profit from death.

These days, Southwest Viatical is headquartered in the restored Paramount Building -- also home to UPN television's Channel 21 -- in downtown Dallas's high-rent West End. I recently stopped by without an appointment.

I knocked on the door of office number 490, then opened it. A man stood behind the receptionist's desk, riffling through papers.

"Mike Davis?"
"Yeah," he replied. "What can I do for you?"
I said I was doing a story on his company and his life as Walter Waldhauser.

He studied my business card, and I thought he was about to deny any knowledge of a Waldhauser.

"By the way," I added, "Johnny Bonds says to tell you hello."
Davis/Waldhauser moved his eyes from my card to my face. He forced a grimace into a slight smile.

"Well, that's nice," he said slowly. "But I'm going to have to pass."
I glanced around the reception area, focusing on its aquarium. "You've got a real nice place here," I said, trying to prolong the conversation. "Business must be good."

"Business," he replied, "is very good."
He walked into a side office, and I showed myself the door.

E-mail Steve McVicker at steve_mcvicker@houstonpress.com.

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