By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Walter Waldhauser Jr., a.k.a. Michael Lee Davis, is out of business and on a short leash. Although the confessed killer is once again a free man, new conditions on his freedom -- referred to as "the highest level of supervision" by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles -- mean his life will be nothing like it was before a recent series of articles by the Houston Press.
In the 1970s, Waldhauser/Davis was the middleman in four insurance- and inheritance-driven contract murders in Houston. In addition to simply arranging the killings, according to the triggerman, Waldhauser/ Davis actually held one of the victims down while she was shot in the head.
In 1980, after confessing to his role in the killings, Waldhauser/Davis was given three concurrent 30-year sentences. (Two other players in the killings were sentenced to death.) After serving less than ten years in prison, Waldhauser was placed on parole and was required to report to his parole officer in person on a monthly basis. A year later he was placed on annual report, which meant he had to contact his parole officer only once a year via the mail.
Beginning with the October 22, 1998 article "Making a Killing," the Press reported that Waldhauser/Davis had surfaced in Dallas in the viatical business. A viatical company buys the life insurance policies of people who are terminally ill, usually AIDS patients, for a fraction of the value and then collects the full amount of the benefits when the person dies. According to state Department of Insurance records, Waldhauser was involved with at least two such companies: Southwest Viatical and First American Fidelity Corporation. Given the fact that Waldhauser/Davis had killed for money in the past, some observers viewed it as a dangerous situation that he was once again in a position to benefit financially from the deaths of others.
Shortly before this past Thanksgiving, Waldhauser/Davis was arrested on charges that he had violated the terms of the annual reporting. Following a revocation hearing last month, a parole board hearing officer recommended that Waldhauser/Davis be released. A three-member board panel concurred. However, the panel also added several new conditions to the terms of Waldhauser/Davis's parole.
Instead of being on annual report, Waldhauser/Davis must once again report to a parole officer on at least a monthly basis. The killer will also wear an electronic monitoring device -- an ankle bracelet transmitter -- at all times. The parole board also forbids Waldhauser/Davis to work in "any position involving financial responsibility" or to engage in "the buying, selling or trading with any insurance company." Additionally, he is to have no contact with fellow ex-con Hoyt Steven Wauhob, the president of the apparently now defunct Southwest Viatical.
Waldhauser/Davis has repeatedly refused to talk with the Press. Kevin Clancy, one of his attorneys, was not available. His other lawyer, Mark Watson, refused to comment. The head of Houston's Crime Victims Assistance Office, on the other hand, was pleased by the development, although he is disappointed that Waldhauser/Davis was not returned to prison for the 11 years that remain on his sentence.
"The board apparently realizes that he is a diabolical, Eddie Haskell type," says Andy Kahan. "That even though he makes the appearances of conforming with his 'yes sir, no sir' attitude, the minute he walks out and you close the door, he's up to his evil, no-good ways."
Meanwhile, Waldhauser/Davis could be facing more legal problems as authorities, including investigators from the state Department of Insurance, continue to probe his activities and dealings over the past few years.