In April of 2004, Mike Danton (or Mike Jefferson, depending on who you speak to) and 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer were arrested and charged with hiring a hit man to kill Mike's agent, David Frost. News reports didn't admit to Frost being the alleged target at first, but as more and more details surfaced, the more obvious it became.
The reason I'm choosing to archive this story on this site is because the parallels between this case and Sheldon's were too similar to be passed off. Not only that, but in the days following the arrest, Sheldon's name was mentioned twice in two different posts on two different boards. So I did a little research, and decided that details about the case should be posted here.
Following are the April, 2004 articles regarding the case.
ESPN.com news services
ST. LOUIS -- A center for the
St. Louis Blues was charged in San Jose, Calif., on Friday in an alleged
plot to kill an acquaintance he feared could ruin his career, the FBI
This month, Blues winger Mike Danton was healthy, itching to play and frustrated he wasn't in the lineup. But he curbed his tongue publicly and waited.
To those who knew his history, this was progress.
Danton, arrested early Friday morning in San Jose, Calif., on federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, came to the Blues "excited for a second chance," he said in June. A second chance, he recognized, that might be his last for a career in the National Hockey League because of his malcontent act with the New Jersey Devils in 2002. Blues general manager Larry Pleau, agent Dave Frost and others told him he could start by keeping "his mouth shut."
Danton, who was acquired for a draft choice, arrived in St. Louis for training camp this season eager to put behind him two tumultuous years in which he was suspended twice, changed his legal name from Jefferson to Danton and sat out most of a season while the Devils combed the league for a team willing to take him.
In July 2002, Danton, born in Brampton, Ontario, legally changed his name from Mike Jefferson to Mike Danton. He said during an interview this season that he did not want to be associated with his family. A "buildup of incidents" - none of which he would specify - led him to dissociate himself from the Jeffersons. He chose "Danton" because it was the first name of a youth he met while helping at a hockey camp. He stopped answering to Jefferson or any nickname derived from the last name. He preferred "Dants."
The 23-year-old forward, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, won a spot on the Blues' roster and tied Reed Low for the team lead in penalty minutes with 141. He also had seven goals and five assists in 68 games, all career highs.
Cast in the role of agitator,
Danton is a speedy skater with some offensive skills and a knack for
playing pesky and physical. His job is to hit, irritate opponents and
draw penalties. Danton earned expanded responsibility early in the season
- getting time on the penalty-killing unit and even on the power play.
Coaches and teammates praised his relentless energy. He was called a
"pleasant surprise" midway through the season.
He nearly scuttled the repair he had done to his reputation when he griped internally about his playing time. But then he quieted and waited out his time as a healthy scratch. A couple teammates mentored him, helping him understand how he could practice his way into the lineup. He was back in the lineup for Game 1 of the Blues' first-round series against San Jose. He played all five games, scoring a goal in Game 4 and playing 6 minutes, 10 seconds Thursday in Game 5, a 3-1 loss that ended the Blues' season.
Danton was arrested before the team's flight home Friday.
Reporter Derrick Goold
Courtesy St. Louis Today.
FBI agents arrested Blues hockey player Mike Danton early Friday on charges that he tried to arrange the murder of an acquaintance at an apartment both used in Brentwood.
Also charged is a woman who said she was involved in a relationship with Danton and who authorities say confessed helping him try to locate a "hit man."
Nobody was injured in the plot, which the FBI said evolved since Tuesday, when Danton, 23, and his target had an argument.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court at East St. Louis says the acquaintance "stated that he and Danton had a severe argument on Tuesday, April 13, 2004, concerning Danton's promiscuity and use of alcohol."
It continues: "Danton begged the acquaintance not to go to the general manager of the St. Louis Blues hockey organization and ruin his career. The acquaintance threatened to leave Danton."
Later in the document, it describes a recorded phone call the FBI got the unidentified acquaintance to make to Danton, apparently before his arrest Friday morning.
"The acquaintance called Danton and asked Danton why he wanted to have him killed," it says. "Danton broke down and sobbed. Danton explained that he felt backed into a corner and also felt that the acquaintance was going to leave him. Danton did not want to allow the acquaintance to leave him, therefore decided to have him murdered."
Danton was picked up in San Jose, Calif., where he played in the Blues' last game of the season Thursday night.
If convicted, he could be imprisoned up to 10 years and fined up to $250,000 on each of two counts - that he conspired and used a telephone across state lines to set up a murder.
Katie Koester Wolfmeyer, 19, of Florissant, also is charged on two counts. She was arrested Thursday night after taking the intended killer, who by then was cooperating with the FBI, to Danton's apartment.
Dave Frost, Danton's agent, said: "We don't as of yet have all the facts. I spoke with Mike. We're fully supportive of him, and we fully intend to be behind him, and with him. Unequivocally, I can tell you it had nothing to do with drugs and alcohol, period. Once we get all the facts, we'll be able to realize what really happened. He's a good kid. He really is."
An affidavit by FBI Special Agent John Jimenez, which is part of the complaint, laid out these details:
On Wednesday, Wolfmeyer was with friends when Danton called her cell phone and asked whether she could help arrange a killing. He said a hired killer was en route from Canada to murder him over a debt, and he wanted that person killed first.
Wolfmeyer arranged for one of her friends, in Monroe County, to take a call from Danton early Thursday. Danton repeated the story and said he wanted her friend to intercept the killer at his apartment, at 1800 South Brentwood Boulevard, and make it look as if one burglar had killed another and fled after looting the place.
The friend suggested doing the killing elsewhere, but Danton insisted on the apartment. "I'll know it's taken care because when I come back, obviously I'll see him there," he was quoted as saying.
Danton wanted the crime to be committed as soon as possible, preferably that night.
After becoming convinced that Danton was serious, the friend called the FBI and consented to taping of phone conversations.
Wolfmeyer met the friend outside a North St. Louis County restaurant Thursday night, and they went together to the apartment, where a gate guard asked whom they were there to see. They told him Danton, and the guard called the apartment.
The intended target came to a second-floor rail and asked who they were. They decided to leave. Suspicious of the event, the man called police.
Danton later called to counsel Wolfmeyer and her friend about what to say about the visit if they were questioned by police.
FBI agents found $3,000 in cash in an unlocked safe in the apartment, matching what Danton had said would be there as down payment for the murder.
The hockey team's spokesman, Jim Woodcock, said late Friday: "It would be inappropriate for the Blues to comment on this matter and this time. This matter is in the hands of law enforcement officials and the judicial system."
U.S. Attorney Ronald J. Tenpas said he could not comment beyond the contents of the complaint.
A hearing in the case is tentatively scheduled for Monday in federal court in East St. Louis.
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
Reporter Michael Shaw:
A day after St. Louis forward Mike Danton was charged in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme, his Blues teammates were still having trouble fathoming the news.
"It's beyond shock," forward Doug Weight said Saturday as players cleaned out their lockers. "I don't know what to say."
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois, Danton, 23, and 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer tried to hire someone to kill an acquaintance of the hockey player. Danton was arrested at the airport in San Jose, Calif., after the Blues were knocked out of the playoffs by a loss to San Jose on Thursday.
"It's tough," center Keith Tkachuk told reporters. "I don't know what's going on. You guys probably know more than I do."
Danton and Wolfmeyer, of Florissant, a St. Louis suburb, face federal charges of conspiring and using a telephone across state lines to set up a murder. According to the criminal complaint, Danton told Wolfmeyer that a hit man from Canada was coming to kill him and asked her if she knew someone who would kill the person for $10,000.
The complaint alleges that Danton was trying to kill a male acquaintance whom he had fought with Tuesday over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol." The complaint said Danton feared the acquaintance, who is not identified, would talk to St. Louis Blues management and ruin Danton's career.
Dave Frost, Danton's agent, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "We don't as of yet have all the facts. I spoke with Mike. We're fully supportive of him, and we fully intend to be behind him, and with him. Unequivocally, I can tell you it had nothing to do with drugs and alcohol, period. Once we get all the facts, we'll be able to realize what really happened. He's a good kid. He really is."
Weight said what Danton does in his personal life is his own business and shouldn't have been a problem for the team.
"Let's preface it by saying who knows what the situation is," Weight said. "There's rumors of what went on and who exactly was involved with this so-called thing.
"Let's not jump to conclusions, but you know what, hypothetically I think it would be fine. I'd like to think people are bigger than that and look into the person as a person and as a teammate."
Danton, formerly known as Mike Jefferson, was suspended twice for disciplinary reasons by the New Jersey Devils last season before being traded to St. Louis last June. He had seven goals, 12 points and 141 penalty minutes in 68 games this season -- all career highs -- with the Blues.
In one game, although he was at a decided disadvantage, he tried to goad Vancouver tough guy Todd Bertuzzi into a fight.
"I don't know a tougher guy than him, I don't know a guy that goes in the corner and gets killed and that will drop his gloves with a guy who's 40 pounds heavier in a flash," Weight said. "He's tough as nails."
Some teammates were hoping the arrest was just a misunderstanding.
"He brings a great presence to the dressing room, so it's just real tough to see him go through this," defenseman Bryce Salvador said. "I really do feel like he's family. It's unfortunate, because he's a great guy."
Others wanted him to know he was in their thoughts.
"We're worried about his life right now and what he's going through," Weight said. "It's a scary thought.
"I feel for him and I'm praying
While questions centered on the motive of the alleged murder-for-hire plot for which hockey player Mike Danton was arrested Friday, the Blues forward agreed to extradition, and the process began to move him from a California jail to the St. Louis area.
His lawyer and agent have not been told when he will arrive.
"I don't have any comment really at this time, because I have not had a chance to communicate with (Danton)," said Robert Haar, a St. Louis-based attorney representing Danton, 23. "He should soon be in transit from California, and I then will have a chance to talk with him about the allegations."
Danton, a forward who just completed his first season with the Blues, was arrested Friday morning in San Jose, Calif. A criminal complaint filed by the FBI in U.S. District Court at East St. Louis alleges that Danton and Katie Koester Wolfmeyer, 19, of Florissant, conspired to hire a hit man to murder a male "acquaintance" of Danton's last week.
Danton, who was being held at the Santa Clara County Jail, has a turbulent personal background and has been estranged from his family, going so far as to change his name from Mike Jefferson to Mike Danton in the summer of 2002.
His agent, Dave Frost, said Saturday that Danton had approached him about getting help sorting through his emotional troubles.
"He asked me a week ago if I could help set up counseling for him and to help him with the fears he had been having," Frost said. "He had things he wanted to get off his chest and he needed help to do so. We were setting something up for him for the end of the season."
When Danton arrives in the St. Louis area, a hearing with a U.S. District Court magistrate will be held to advise him of the complaint.
The description of the alleged target in the affidavit is vague, which prompted speculation as to the nature of Danton's relationship with him.
The complaint states that Danton broke into tears when confronted by the acquaintance about the alleged plot. It also states that Danton "felt backed into a corner and . . . felt that the acquaintance was going to leave him."
Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation or who are close to Danton said the relationship was not intimate. One said there isn't any indication the relationship has a "sexual element to it at all."
The FBI could not be reached Saturday for information on the case.
According to authorities, a witness cooperating with the FBI - the person identified in the complaint as being hired by Danton for the murder - went to Danton's Brentwood residence on Thursday. There he was confronted by the acquaintance. The acquiantance, who later worked with the FBI to tape record a phone conversation with Danton, told the witness he was Danton's father, according to the complaint. Sources said that the man at Danton's residence was not his father, with whom they said Danton has not spoken in years.
A woman who was at the family's home in Brampton, Ontario, told a reporter from The Toronto Star that the family had contacted the NHL Players' Association in hopes it would help Danton. She also told the paper that she believes the NHL has a doctor who will meet with Danton soon.
"We're just lost," the
woman, who did not identify herself, told the paper.
Wolfmeyer was arrested in conjunction with the plot, authorities said, and is identified in the affidavit as the woman Danton contacted to find a hit man. She was arrested Thursday night after taking the intended killer to Danton's apartment, authorities said.
Wolfmeyer's family declined to comment Saturday. They referred questions to the family's attorney, who could not be reached.
At Savvis Center on Saturday, Danton's teammates held end-of-season meetings with coaches and management. They found out about Danton's arrest on Friday morning when they boarded the bus to the team's charter flight home.
Agents from the San Francisco FBI office and San Jose police officers went to Danton's hotel room but did not find him there. The arrest was made at the San Jose airport.
"Obviously we're all pretty stunned by this," said Ryan Johnson, Danton's usual road roommate. He did not make the trip to San Jose for Thursday's Game 5 because of injury.
"We don't know everything. We're definitely behind him and just want to be there to support him," Johnson said. "Whatever happens we're there to help in anyway he needs."
Doug Weight said: "It's beyond shock, really. . . . It's sad for him. He's had a hard go. We're thinking about him and we're all praying for him."
Heather Ratcliffe of the Post-Dispatch
contributed to this report.
The Blues have never won a Stanley Cup. This franchise hasn't come particularly close, even after advancing out of the expansion bracket to reach the Finals in its first three seasons.
But few sports franchises have had a more, um, interesting history than the Blues. The Mike Danton murder-for-hire escapade is just the latest chapter in a long, strange and often tragic drama.
Fans following this team haven't enjoyed the ultimate fulfillment. But they haven't been bored, either, due to all the twists and turns of fortune and misfortune.
How about that riot in Philadelphia, the players/fans brawl with Bob Plager's fingerprints all over it? It's not often the cops come to the dressing room looking for suspects.
How about all the great hockey men that enjoyed amazing success AFTER leaving St. Louis, starting with legends like Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Cliff Fletcher?
This franchise lost beloved enforcer Bob Gassoff to a fatal motorcycle accident. Cornerstone player Doug Gilmour, another huge fan favorite, was hastily traded after some alleged Adventures in Babysitting came to light.
Franchise icon Barclay Plager lost his heroic battle against brain cancer while serving as assistant coach. The NHL stole cornerstone defenseman Scott Stevens as punishment for signing free-agent forward Brendan Shanahan.
Later, the club suffered further sanctions when the league deemed the Blues guilty of tampering with Stevens while he was still under contract with New Jersey.
Ralston-Purina left the franchise for dead after the NHL nixed its sale to buyers in Saskatoon. Colorful Harry Ornest, a California businessman, swooped in and bought the Blues at a salvage price. Much weirdness ensued.
Blues announcer Dan Kelly, perhaps the preeminent hockey broadcaster in all of North America, was cut down in his prime by cancer. Doug Wickenheiser, an historic figure from the "Monday Night Miracle" in the '86 Western Conference Finals, suffered a disastrous knee injury in a team "snipe hunt."
Later, Wickenheiser lost his long and courageous battle against cancer.
Jacques Demers, the coach of that storied '86 team, jumped to the Detroit Red Wings after that season. In fact, he talked with the Red Wings about the job even while coaching the Blues to their most exciting postseason since 1970.
The Mike Keenan Era brought a decade's worth of melodrama, with popular players coming and going at a dizzying pace. Even Wayne Gretzky wore the Blue Note for a couple months before getting fed up with "Iron Mike."
The Blues stole the most spectacular player in their history, Brett Hull, from the Calgary Flames. Of course, the franchise also let him walk in his prime -- only to see him win Stanley Cups with arch-rivals Dallas and Detroit.
Just as the Blues finally got Chris Pronger all the way back from reconstructive knee surgery and radical wrist surgery, future Hall of Famer Al MacInnis suffered a career-ending eye injury last fall.
Well-respected former Blue Rob Ramage was involved in an automobile accident that claimed the life of his good friend Keith Magnuson, another former NHL star. He faces criminal charges in Canada in the wake of that wreck.
On and on it goes. This bizarre Mike Danton episode is just the latest misadventure in a series of head-scratchers.
Is this franchise cursed? Why do the Hockey Gods frown on Mound City?
The 2003-04 Blues were painfully dull and predictable, even after Joel Quenneville finally got the short haircut. But these Blues could not escape the franchise's pattern of strange misfortune.
Murder for hire? Even the most seasoned Blues fans are struggling to digest this news. We knew that Danton lugged a great deal of personal baggage to St. Louis, but we couldn't have imagined something like this in a million years.
It's a shame Danton didn't turn to the Blues for the help he obviously needed. What will become of him now . . . well, that's anybody's guess.
We can wish for a some sort of
happy ending -- but given the sadly twisted history of this franchise,
that's asking for a lot.
Murder is no joke. Murder is no game. Murder-for-hire is serious and scary. It is supposed to be something out of a Soprano's saga. It is supposed to be the stuff of drug lords and mob bosses, of street gangs and organized crime.
But once again, murder is an interloper to the games people play. It is here in St. Louis, intruding on our pleasure. It is right next to the baseball scores, jostling for space with basketball playoffs, hockey's postseason and endless football draft prognostications.
We've seen sports figures involved in murder-related cases before - O.J. and Rae Carruth and Ray Lewis. Sad, tragic and disturbing stories, but they were never our stories. They were never our guys. Wrong teams. Wrong cities. Wrong players.
But now it's a name we know personally that's in the headlines. It's a St. Louis Blue named Mike Danton. Now it is our story, our team, our city, and our player. And now all we keep wondering is why. What could be so bad that it could drive a man to such desperation? How could something be so awful and haunting that it would turn a 23-year-old, professional hockey tough guy into an alleged conspirator in a foiled murder-for-hire plot?
Questions. Boy, do we have questions. Everything around Danton's arrest - and for that matter, much of his life - seems to end with a question mark. Everything is vague, everything filled with incomplete hints, innuendoes and mysteries.
Who is this "acquaintance" who allegedly was targeted for death? Was it his estranged father, or someone else? What secrets did this "acquaintance" know that were so upsetting to Danton that they would be worth killing for? What do we gather from the vague references to alcohol and sexual promiscuity? What does this all mean, and when will the dots be connected?
There are so many questions but so few answers.
Today we have to wonder what sort of awful demons must be dancing inside his head.
Are they the same demons that he always seemed to be exorcising every time he skated out on the ice? On the ice, he was a feisty, undersized agitator. The funny thing was, off the ice, he was one of the original nice guys. Yet there was always this inexplicable edge just below the surface that those who knew him best privately said was a bit unnerving. They said there was something else there just below the surface, something unsettling and smoldering. The folks who knew him best saw something there but just couldn't put a finger on what it was.
But whatever demons haunted him,
Danton turned them into an asset on the ice.
That was typical Mike Danton. Fearless, relentless, possessed.
But now we know that Danton carried that rage off the ice, too. And off the ice, it was no asset. Privately, lots of hockey folks have been asking questions about Mike Danton for a long time. Privately, they have been wondering, whispering and questioning just what sort of anger was stirring in his heart, in his head, in his soul. He was a troubled man in New Jersey before the Devils traded him to the Blues, so troubled, so angry that he was suspended twice, changed his name from Jefferson to Danton, then did a complete disconnect from his family in Brampton, Ontario.
So what was it that was making him so angry? Is the anger that fueled the rage he exhibited as one of the NHL's smallest and most combative tough guys part of the same torment that allegedly drove him to this alleged murder-for-hire plot?
The trouble is, right now, all we have are lots of questions that don't seem to have any answers.
Courtesy St. Louis Today.
Mike Danton's father, with whom the Blues player has been estranged for several years, said Sunday his son "needs help" and blames Danton's agent for his son's emotional problems, accusations the agent vehemently denies.
Stephen Jefferson spoke publicly for the first time since his son's arrest Friday in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
The comments from the father came as Danton's representatives were still awaiting word on when the 23-year-old would be moved from a California jail to the St. Louis-area. The local attorney for Danton, Robert Haar, said he had not been informed when Danton would be moved or when a hearing will be held on the charges.
Danton was arrested Friday in San Jose, Calif., as a result of a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis by the FBI. The complaint alleges that Danton attempted to hire someone to murder an acquaintance whom Danton said was a hired killer coming to kill him.
Danton's agent, Dave Frost, said he spoke with Danton on Sunday and that "each day he's gotten better and that he appreciates all of the support he's received."
Jefferson spoke with several members of the media on Sunday, including the Post-Dispatch. He said that his relationship with his son ended "all because of David Frost."
"I haven't spoken to Mike in a long, long time," Jefferson said. "David is a monster, a manipulator. Mike and I got along fine until (his agent). ... I want David Frost to stay away from Michael."
Frost said: "For him to question my credibility is unconscionable."
Jefferson said his relationship with his son "dwindled" after Frost became Danton's agent, when the player was about 15, approximately eight years ago. Frost said that was about the time Danton came to him and "begged me to get him out of the house."
Nearly two years ago, Danton legally changed his name from Mike Jefferson to Mike Danton. He said in an interview in September that he had the name change to sever ties with his family.
Danton would not go into details about what led to that decision.
"He didn't change his name for no reason," Frost said. The agent added that it is "well-documented" with Danton's Canadian lawyer and with Canadian regional police "what Mike has gone through and what he has had to deal with. . . . It is all eventually going to come out and it will surface. This is really going to be a part of Mike's healing process."
Asked if he abused his son, Jefferson said: "No."
He said he had tried to contact his son at the California jail.
Frost said that in his talk with Danton on Sunday that Danton reiterated he wanted to seek counseling for what Frost called "paranoia," but also to deal with emotional turmoil he has kept mostly private.
The Jefferson family has contacted the NHL and the NHL Players' Association to get aid for Danton. When contacted the NHL said any help from a league-affiliated source would be confidential.
"My son needs help from doctors," Jefferson said.
The family for Katie Koester Wolfmeyer, 19, who was arrested in conjunction with Danton and charged by the FBI in the conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, also spoke publicly Sunday.
John Wolfmeyer, her uncle, said the family was "quite shaken and concerned completely with Katie's well-being."
John Wolfmeyer said Katie was still incarcerated, but her parents had gone to see her. When they first spoke with her, Katie told them she couldn't sleep and couldn't eat. On Sunday, she "ate a donut," John Wolfmeyer said.
"She's very bubbly, very family-oriented," her uncle said. "I know it's cliche to say the girl next door, but Katie's like the girl next door. There is a lot of support here for her and her family."
Katie Wolfmeyer is on an athletic scholarship at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, her uncle said. John Wolfmeyer had a hand-written set of notes from Katie's father about his daughter's academic record, her community and church involvement and her taking 15 hours of classes and working three jobs. One of those jobs was at the Blues' new practice facility, the ice rink at St. Louis Mills in Hazelwood.
The family did not know of a relationship with Danton, John Wolfmeyer said.
Questions outnumber the answers as to what the individual parties can say about the arrest and the charges as the parties are severely limited in what they can say. Representatives for Danton said information shedding light on Danton's background, why specifically he legally changed his name and why he had gone to lengths to avoid his father would be clear in the future. Also unknown is the identity of the acquaintance mentioned in the criminal complaint. The report is written as if to indicate that the acquaintance was the target of the alleged murder for hire.
Representatives declined to comment about specifics of the case.
The FBI could not be reached for comment.
"When this all comes out
and the dust settles," Frost said, "the war of words
Reporter Derrick Goold
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues forward
Mike Danton is in dire need of psychological counseling as he remains
jailed on an alleged murder-for-hire plot, the player's agent said Monday.
Sports agent Dave Frost appears to have been the target of what authorities have described as a murder plot by St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton, a protege and client.
The identity of the target has been a mystery since charges were filed on Friday.
However, law enforcement sources told the Post-Dispatch on Monday that the FBI found Frost at the player's apartment in Brentwood about midnight Thursday. That was minutes after Danton's accused teenage accomplice and a man she believed to be a hired killer had arrived there. That man had reported the alleged plot and was secretly working with the FBI.
The FBI brought the sports agent to the Brentwood police station, which is nearby, to talk with him along with the accused accomplice, 19-year-old Katie Koester Wolfmeyer, and the informer. Another law enforcement source who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that Frost was that sports agent.
Frost has denied that he was a target of a murder plot. He told The Associated Press Tuesday that the the confusion will "all be cleared up as soon as Mike is able to talk."
"I wasn't the target," he told the AP
He refused to discuss specifics of the case with the AP or in an interview with the Post-Dispatch on Monday.
"The lawyers are the ones who will have to comment about the specifics of that night," Frost said.
"Once the whole thing shakes down, everyone will understand exactly all of the circumstances of what happened," he said. "When the smoke clears, everyone will know what Mike was thinking and what really happened. I can tell you that the moment he arrives in St. Louis is the moment a psychologist arrives to help him. We're in position to help him, and that is our goal."
Said Frost's lawyer, Michael Edelson: "There is a story behind the story which will be told eventually. Other than that, I have no comment. We're not going to try this in the press."
A possible motive for killing Frost was not immediately clear. Court documents said Danton and his intended target had argued earlier in the week about issues of drinking and promiscuity and Danton had begged him not to tell the Blues general manager and ruin his career.
Authorities later recorded a sobbing Danton telling the target in a phone call that he "felt backed into a corner and also felt the acquaintance was going to leave him," the complaint against Danton said. So Danton "decided to have him murdered."
Danton was arrested Friday in San Jose, Calif., as a result of a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis by the FBI. The complaint alleged that Danton offered $10,000 to a man in Monroe County introduced to him by Wolfmeyer to kill someone he allegedly told Wolfmeyer had been hired to kill him.
If convicted, he could be imprisoned up to 10 years and fined up to $250,000 on each of two counts - that he conspired and used a telephone across state lines to set up a murder. Wolfmeyer, of Florissant, was charged with the same counts.
Frost is not well-known in St. Louis but is known in Toronto's hockey circles for being banned from two junior hockey leagues and for having a strong influence over a core of young players.
Danton's father, Stephen Jefferson, called Frost a "monster" and blamed him for his dwindling relationship with his son.
Frost has said it is Jefferson who was the controlling figure in Danton's life, saying it was "well-documented" with Danton's Canadian lawyer and with Canadian regional police "what Mike has gone through and what he has had to deal with. It is all eventually going to come out, and it will surface. This is really going to be a part of Mike's healing process."
Danton's St. Louis-based attorney, Robert Haar, said he had been in contact with the U.S. attorney general's office about when Danton will be transferred from a California jail to the St. Louis area.
It could take "two to three weeks," Haar said, but he had been assured that the process would be expedited. "I suspect (Danton will be moved) much quicker than that," Haar said.
After a weekend in jail, Katie Wolfmeyer was released on $100,000 bond Monday, to a collective gasp of relief among friends and family after a federal judge in East St. Louis ruled that she was not likely to flee the area. Her parents, Patrick and Nancy Wolfmeyer, posted the required 10 percent in cash.
Her bail hearing Monday shed some light on the man from Monroe County whom she had allegedly introduced to Danton to carry out the murder. Her lawyer, Don Groshong, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford J. Proud that the man is a police officer - and that Wolfmeyer knew it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark said the man was not a police officer but a "civilian employee." He didn't elaborate.
Authorities first became involved in the case when the man Wolfmeyer introduced to Danton called Columbia, Ill., police on Thursday after becoming convinced that Danton was serious.
Columbia officers contacted the FBI, Chief Joe Edwards said Monday.
Proud, the magistrate judge, noted Wolfmeyer's clean background.
"It is evident to me, Miss Wolfmeyer, that there is not so much as a parking ticket in your past," he said, shortly before releasing her to her parents' custody and under conditions of home confinement and electronic monitoring. "This is not to cheapen the seriousness of the offenses with which you are charged."
The family declined to comment as her bond was posted and as she left the courthouse.
Clark, the prosecutor, argued that Wolfmeyer should remain jailed. "This is a case where this defendant made calls to set up a murder," he said. "This is a crime of violence."
Groshong, of Alton, denied that Wolfmeyer signed a confession as reported in an FBI agent's affidavit in the case. He said she only admitted to certain facts.
"Miss Wolfmeyer has already cooperated, and by 'cooperated' I mean cooperated fully with the government so far. She will continue to do so," he said.
After the hearing, he described her as an honors student who is working two jobs, attending college and spending time as a lacrosse coach. And he called her a victim.
"Nobody contacted anybody to do a hit," Groshong said. "This is a young girl smitten by a hockey player who lied to her continually. . . . She's the victim. She's been lied to by everybody." Groshong declined to elaborate on who lied to her.
More than 20 people turned up to show support for Wolfmeyer. Some of them were her college classmates at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, who skipped their classes to be there, Groshong said.
Wolfmeyer, who is studying nursing, burst into tears several times during the hearing, prompting family members and friends to cry in sympathy and exchange hugs.
John Wolfmeyer, an uncle of Katie Wolfmeyer's, said late Monday that the family was thrilled to welcome her home.
"It was great," he said. "There was a roomful of people waiting for her. Everyone was just happy to have her home. After a half hour, she actually stopped crying and started smiling."
Reporter Jeremy Kohler
Reporter Derrick Goold
Reporter Michael Shaw
Courtesy St. Louis Today.
When the father of Blues forward Mike Danton over the weekend blamed Danton's agent for his son's emotional problems, it was the first time many St. Louisans had heard of the sports agent.
But Dave Frost is a household name in hockey-crazed Toronto, where the newspapers have profiled him as a hockey guru with powerful - some have said undue - influence over a corps of young hockey players in Ontario.
He's loved in some circles, hated in others. As a sports agent based in Laguna Beach, Calif., he has a base of loyal clients. As a coach, he was banned by two junior hockey leagues in Ontario, and in 1997 pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting his own player while coaching a junior-level team, according to several news reports.
Frost's close connection to four players - including Danton - drew notice from coaches and hockey insiders in the late 1990s. He is now an agent for several NHL players, including Danton.
Another protege, Sheldon Keefe, now a player with the Tampa Bay Lightning, in 1999 was quoted as saying in the Toronto Sun that he "wouldn't want anything else" than to be labeled as one of Frost's players.
Danton's father, Stephen Jefferson, too, was once counted among Frost's supporters.
"Dave Frost," Jefferson is quoted as telling the Toronto Sun in March 1999, "is the best thing to ever happen to my kid."
That opinion changed. On Sunday, Jefferson called Frost a "monster" and a "manipulator" who drove a wedge between him and his son. Two years ago, Danton changed his last name from Jefferson to cut off ties to his family.
Frost's relationship with Danton has been fodder for Canadian newspapers for the better part of a decade. In its 1999 profile of Frost, the Toronto Sun quoted a woman in Sarnia, Ontario, who had hosted Danton while he played for a local team.
The newspaper wrote that the woman became concerned about Frost controlling Danton and contacted the team's management about it.
The woman, Bonnie Gardner, was quoted as saying Danton was "a nice kid, but he changed when Frost was around. To me, Frost's a scary person. I don't like him."
Frost has been quoted as saying he doesn't care what people think of him, and that his players have excelled in school and on the ice.
"I didn't come into this business to make friends," he was quoted as telling the Toronto Sun in 1999. "I've heard the brainwash stuff, that I brainwash players. You know how crazy that is? If I was that smart, I would brainwash 20 of them and we would go win the Stanley Cup."
Courtesy St. Louis Today.
There is something oh so creepy going on here. The deeper we dig into the sordid, mysterious and so far incomplete details of Mike Danton's haunted past, tragic present and uncertain future, the more we are sure that when it's all over, we're all going to want to take a long, cleansing shower.
It just feels that bad, that dirty, that creepy.
It's like walking into a dank, dark, mildewed cellar with cobwebs on the ceiling, and all kinds of unseen horror lurking in the shadowy dark corners. You know there are phantoms out there. You know there is some sort of disturbing, yet-to-be-determined nightmare out there, and all you have to do is open the right - or wrong - door.
So far, no one has been able to provide the answer to the question we all keep asking.
Danton's arrest last week on charges he conspired in a foiled murder-for-hire plot has forced us to start rummaging through his troubled past and start opening some of those doors. And with each door that opens, we are getting closer to knowing why.
The picture is clearer now, and it isn't pretty.
This is the picture so far: We now know it hinges around the 23-year-old Danton and his relationship with a character named David Frost, who appears to be the "acquaintance" in Danton's apartment, according to sources close to the investigation, and the apparent target of the alleged murder plot.
Frost is Danton's agent and has at various times since 1991 served as the player's junior coach, adviser, confidant, agent and close friend. According to Stephen Jefferson, Danton's father (who isn't exactly turning out to be a noble character in this pathetic tale, either), Frost is "a monster, a manipulator. Mike and I got along fine until (Frost) ... I want David Frost to stay away from Michael."
The reputation the 37-year-old Frost has earned in Canadian hockey circles is that of a hockey Svengali who collects, manipulates, grooms and controls promising young players as a coach, adviser and agent. "(Frost) practiced mind control. He was just a very unusual gentleman," John Gardner, president of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, told the Toronto Star in recent days.
Change the country, change the sport (and eliminate the murder-for-hire element) and this could be the story of any over-ambitious, AAU basketball coach or street agent trying to identify, collect, manipulate and groom promising young future NBA stars as future millionaire clients. But this story began in Canada, where hockey, not basketball, is the fantasy of every little kid, and the ticket to fame and fortune.
Frost first met Danton in 1991, when at the urging of a close friend, Stephen Jefferson introduced his 11-year-old son to Frost, who was then just a promising young coach in the Ontario Hockey Association's junior leagues. It all began because everyone had too many stars in his eyes. Everyone was counting on the kid becoming a star. Everyone was betting that the kid was going to reach the NHL.
So Stephen Jefferson basically just handed his son over to this man named David Frost. Soon enough, Danton (then known as Mike Jefferson) grew close to Frost and followed him around the OHA as his skills grew. But as the relationship grew, so did the problems and controversies. Danton's home life was a mess. He became increasingly estranged from his family and drew closer to Frost. Whenever there were problems in his Brampton, Ontario home, he would simply go to Frost, who lived nearby.
But Frost had problems, too. In 1995, Frost was suspended for three years by the then-Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League after being accused of forging a signature on a player release form. The Ontario Hockey Association also suspended Frost from coaching any junior teams in its jurisdiction following his time as coach of the Brampton Capitals during the 1994-95 season. The OHA never specified why Frost was prohibited, only saying, "The OHA had some serious concerns about the general conduct of the team when he was in charge."
In 1997, Frost, then coach of the Quinte Hawks Junior A team, was accused by two off-duty police officers of repeatedly punching one of his players. He denied the charge, and so did the player, but the officers said they witnessed the assault. Frost pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge, plus a small fine and 12 months probation.
By 1998, Frost had gotten out of coaching and was acting as an "adviser" to promising young prospects. Frost was also playing a bigger role in Danton's life. He was almost like an agent and confidant to Danton and three other prospects, Sheldon Keefe, Ryan Barnes and Shelton Cation. According to the Toronto Star, in late October 1998, officials of the St. Michael's Majors said they were launching a probe into the relationship between Frost and the four players, in light of the discovery of Frost's controversial past. One day later, after a meeting between the chairman of the Majors, the head coach and GM, they called off the probe. However, three months later, in a rather unusual move (particularly since Keefe was the league's leading scorer), Frost's guys were all traded just before the playoffs to the Barrie Colts.
Yet even as the controversy around Frost continued to build, the bond between Danton and Frost grew stronger, and stranger. While playing for the Sarnia Sting, Danton was a loner who spent a great deal of his free time with Frost in the single room he rented from a family in Sarnia. Robert Ciccarelli, owner of the OHL Sarnia Sting, was out of town when attempts to reach him were made by the Post-Dispatch on Monday. However, in an interview with the Toronto Star, Ciccarelli characterized the Frost-Danton relationship as "certainly odd from our perspective. ... It concerned us as a team."
And now Mike Danton is once again living in a single room, and everyone is still wondering exactly what's going on.
Sitting at the kitchen table of
his Brampton home, Steve Jefferson's eyes mist up when he remembers
the last time he spoke with his son, St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton.
Mike Danton was obsessed with
becoming a National Hockey League player. Little else seemed to matter
to the troubled St. Louis forward, according to those who knew him during
his junior hockey days.
Courtesy The Toronto Star.