Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Allen Janecka

Allen Janecka
Allen Janecka
Executed on 24 July 2003

Allen Wayne Janecka, 53, was executed by lethal injection on 24 July 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder-for-hire of a couple and their baby.

On 6 July 1979, the bodies of John Wanstrath, 35, his wife, Diana, 36, and their 14-month-old son, Kevin, were discovered in their home. A neighbor discovered the bodies. Each of the Wanstraths had been shot in the head with a .22-caliber weapon. Even though police did not find a gun in the home, the Harris County medical examiner ruled that Diana Wanstrath had killed her husband and son, then committed suicide.

The Wanstrath's estate was worth about $800,000. Diana had inherited much of this wealth when her mother, Gertrude Duff-Smith Zabolio, died. Zabolio was found dead in her home in 1975, strangled with panty hose. Her death was also classified as a suicide.

Disbelieving the suicide ruling, Officer Johnny Bonds of the Houston police department led an investigation into the Wanstraths' deaths. His investigation focused on Markham Duff-Smith, Zabolio's adopted son. Duff-Smith gained a substantial inheritance from his mother's death and stood to gain even more from the death of his adoptive sister and her family. Through an investigation that lasted a year and a half, Bonds uncovered evidence that Duff-Smith hired Walter Waldhauser to kill his mother, his sister, and his sister's family and that Waldhauser, in turn, hired Janecka (pronounced ya-NEZH-ka).

In November 1980, a Houston detective traveled to Georgia, where Janecka's girlfriend turned over a can of Mace and a .22-caliber revolver. Janecka was arrested for unrelated offenses, and while in custody, he overheard the detective talking about his trip to Georgia. Janecka then confessed. According to Janecka, he and Waldhauser went to the Wanstrath's home. They posed as architects who had a home building project to discuss, and they brought a bottle of champagne. After sharing the champagne with the unsuspecting couple, Waldhauser sprayed Diana with Mace. Janecka then shot John and Diana. He then entered the nursery and "took care of the little one," shooting Kevin in the head. After leaving the house, Waldhauser told Janecka to destroy the gun, but instead he kept it. Waldhauser paid Janecka "several thousand dollars."

According to Bonds' investigation, Janecka was working for a Houston bail bond office in exchange for the company's having posted bond for him in a burglary case. When Waldhauser called a friend of his who worked there and asked, somewhat jokingly, if he knew anyone who would work as a hit man, Janecka volunteered.

In addition to Janecka's confession, the jury also heard testimony that a few days after the killings, Janecka was drinking with some friends when he pointed out a newspaper article about the killings. He declared that he and Waldhauser were responsible, then wept for hours, according to testimony. Janecka told investigators that he agreed to carry out the killings for a few thousand dollars because he feared that Waldhauser and Duff-Smith were with the Mafia and would kill him otherwise. A ballistics expert testified that the revolver recovered from Janecka's girlfriend was positively the weapon that fired the bullet that killed Kevin Wanstrath.

Janecka was a habitual felony offender. He served 6 months of a 2-year sentence for burglary in 1972-73. In 1974, he served another 7 weeks in prison for violating the terms of his parole. In August 1976, he was sentenced to 5 years for another burglary conviction. He was released in just under 2 years.

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