An incarcerated murderer who escaped prison eight years ago, aided by his pretty prison psychologist-lover, has made a startling admission to authorities. The revelation raised alarm about the risk posed by killer Andrew Wood, who fled penitentiary after Erin Danto, his secret sweetheart, smuggled him a cellphone, equipped a campsite hideout for him and schemed to conceal his whereabouts.
Wood has confessed to prison officials that he still loves Danto, a revelation that sparked concern since Wood is seeking parole. Wood also offered a mea culpa that he refused to make in 2009, when he fled penitentiary with Danto’s help. He has confessed that the convict-counsellor-couple carefully plotted his breakout.
“You have since admitted that the escape was planned, deliberate and stemmed from both of you wanting to pursue the relationship,” notes an April 2017 parole board document. “The two of you planned to take off together, or for you to hide out in her home indefinitely.” When Wood pleaded guilty to the escape, he refused to admit he was in a relationship with Danto.
Wood remains in a medium-security federal prison in Ontario while his former lover was stripped of her professional credentials and was deported to the United States after serving a jail sentence of two years less one day. Danto, who is from Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to breach of trust and being an accessory after the fact to the escape of Wood, who fled minimum-security Frontenac Institution in Kingston, Ontario on June 13, 2009. Charges against Danto of obstructing justice and being a party to the offence of escaping custody were withdrawn as part of a plea bargain. Wood earned three more years in prison for his escape, though the additional time is meaningless since he’s already serving a life sentence.
Danto was a full-time staff psychologist at Frontenac Institution. At the time of the escape, she had been Wood’s counsellor for a year.
Until recently, Wood clung to the dream that he and Danto would reunite in Canada once Danto secured a pardon. The dream died when Danto told Wood, in 2014, that she had moved on and found someone new, Wood told prison officals.
Authorities aren’t sure they believe Wood, who is known for unhealthy dependencies on women, along with cravings for illicit drugs and murderous impulses.
New details of Wood’s relationship with Danto, and his ongoing fixation, emerged only because he’s again trying to get out of prison – although this time, legitimately. Wood recently applied for parole and was rejected. The Parole Board said it is “very concerned” about Wood’s revelation during a hearing in April 2017 that he is “willing to be in a relationship with [Danto] if the circumstances allowed you to, which is very concerning to the Board as it notes that you had fled custody on one occasion to be with this person.”
Wood admits “to still loving her but not in a romantic way.” He claims that their relationship ended in 2014 after she found someone else but the board noted that this “has not been ascertained with certainty” and a clinician “indicates that although the woman is no longer employed with CSC or living in Canada, there may be concerns about attempts to rekindle the relationship, with may lead to further issues.”
Wood claims he’s now in a platonic relationship with a woman who knew his murder victim. The written record of the recent parole hearing notes:
“In a recent interview with your parole officer you acknowledged that you still love the CSC staff member you escaped prison for, and you feel as though you can call her in the future if you wanted to. Your parole officer, in a recent correctional plan update, indicates emotional instability and relationship vulnerability are risk factors in your case, as you have a pattern of becoming emotionally dependent on women. There is also a reference in file information that you became infatuated with a different CSC staff member in 2000; years before your relationship with the psychologist.”
Wood’s passionate feelings for Danto were evident the day he was captured, in June 2009, five days after he escaped prison. A police surveillance team covertly tailed Danto when she drove to Wood’s campsite-hideout 30 kilometres north of Kingston
As the pair was being separated, handcuffed and taken to police vehicles, Wood called out to her: “I love you, Erin.”
Wood doesn’t appear a good candidate for parole for multiple reasons. In 2014, he was caught using drugs. At his recent hearing, he offered a new spin on events surrounding the murder he committed in 1989. Wood denied that the killing was a “planned and deliberate” attack although he admitted that when he shot the victim in the head he had “intentions at that time to kill him.”
The board notes that Wood has a “history of depression, suicide, panic attacks and drug use.”
He has dual citizenship in Canada and England. He was rejected in 2010 when he requested an international prisoner transfer to England.
The Parole Board concluded, in its latest assessment, that Wood continues to “lack insight” into the factors that led him to commit murder and continues to be “less than transparent in your discussions with the Board.” He’s considered an “undue risk to society” for release on any form of parole.
Danto resigned her membership in the College of Psychologists of Ontario, the professional body that governs psychologists in the province. The organization also conducted a disciplinary proceeding. It found Danto guilty of professional misconduct and revoked her licence. In the record of the decision, the agency noted that after Wood’s escape, when material was found in his cell that connected him to Danto, she denied to police that there was any connection between the pair beyond their professional relationship at the prison where she counselled him. That material was a piece of paper with Danto’s personal contact information.
The written record of the college disciplinary decision concludes:
In addition, the Panel notes that Dr. Danto’s lack of personal and professional judgment, her inappropriate professional relationship with her client and her subsequent actions were serious breaches of ethical and professional standards which had harmful consequences for a vulnerable client who was then faced with further legal charges.
Wood has been repeatedly denied parole because he has never taken responsibility for the murder he committed in Toronto in 1989.
Wood met a man, under the guise of seeking his help in a big money drug deal. Wood drove the victim to a secluded area and shot him several times with a shotgun including at least once in the head. Wood has maintained that he was protecting the woman who was his girlfriend at the time from sexual abuse by the man though parole records note that Wood “continues to struggle” to provide a coherent and consistent explanation for the murder.
The written record of Wood’s April 2017 parole board hearing:
The written record of the discipline decision by the College of Psychologists of Ontario, revoking Erin Danto’s licence: