St. Louis Blues hockey player Michael Danton, 23, was arrested by federal officials in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday for what appears to be a gay murder-for-hire plot.
The 23-year-old faces charges that he tried to hire someone to kill his male roommate--possibly a lover--who lived with him in an apartment about five miles from St. Louis, according to various media outlets including CNN and Reuters. If convicted, Danton could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to $250,000 on each of two counts--that he conspired and that he used a telephone across state lines to set up a murder.
Danton, a center for the St. Louis Blues, had just completed his first full season in the National Hockey League. According to the FBI complaint, he and a roommate got into an argument last Tuesday about Danton's promiscuity and use of alcohol. Danton begged his roommate not to go to the general manager of the Blues hockey organization and ruin his career. The man threatened to leave Danton.
According to Outsports.com, following the argument Danton reportedly made up a story about a Canadian who had wanted to kill him over a debt. He asked a friend, Katie Wolfmeyer, 19, on Wednesday if she knew of anyone who would kill the man for $10,000. Wolfmeyer asked someone about the plan, and that person, realizing Danton was serious, told the FBI and became a cooperating witness.
According to the FBI, Danton's cover story was to have been that two burglars broke in and one killed the other and fled with $3,000 in cash from the apartment. The complaint said an agitated Danton wanted the job done last Thursday night. "The only way that I'm going to be able to sleep tonight is knowing that the guy trying to kill me is done himself.... I'm pretty much begging, [and] I wouldn't resort to this if it wasn't a matter of life or death," the complaint quotes him as saying in a phone call to the prospective hit man just after midnight Thursday, Outsports.com reported.
Friday, as the FBI listened in, the acquaintance called Danton and asked why he wanted the roommate killed, according to the complaint. "Danton broke down and sobbed," the complaint says. "Danton explained he felt backed into a corner and also felt the acquaintance was going to leave him. Danton did not want to allow the acquaintance to leave him [and] therefore decided to have him murdered."
Danton's agent told the New York Daily News that his client has been suffering from depression
and other mental health problems and denied that the arrest was related to a fear of being outed as a gay man. "This has nothing to do with a gay lover or his relationship with any female," Dave Frost told the newspaper. "We're going to get him some help, some treatment. He's had some issues from his younger years that he needs to deal with."
The International Gay and Lesbian Ice Hockey Association and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network called upon the National Hockey League on Monday to take immediate action in response to the arrest and nature of the allegations against Danton.
"The fact that Mike Danton felt it was better to have someone murdered rather than be known as gay is a stunning statement about the depth of the homophobia that exists in professional hockey and other sports," said Jeff Kagan, IGLIHA commissioner. "We are disappointed by the failure of the NHL to address the underlying bigotry that has created the climate of fear in which Mike Danton lived and which drove him to such a desperate act."