At the very least, Marilou Danley is a person of great curiosity. Late last night, the girlfriend of the perpetrator of the Las Vegas massacre returned to the US in Los Angeles, escorted off the plane in a wheelchair by police. The Clark County sheriff considers Danley a “person of interest,” but it’s not clear whether that’s as a co-conspirator or as a material witness:
Investigators believe Danley, who had traveled to Hong Kong on Sept. 25, could fill in some of the blanks as to why Paddock assembled an arsenal of guns and opened fire on a crowd, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.
“We anticipate some information from her shortly,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said earlier Tuesday. “She is currently a person of interest.”
Paddock wired $100,000 to an account in Danley’s home country, the Philippines, in the week before he unleashed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, according to multiple senior law enforcement officials. It was not known whether the money was for her or her family or for another purpose.
Investigators believe Paddock and Danley started dating in the spring and lived together in Mesquite, Nevada. They do not believe she was involved in the shooting, although Paddock did have some of her identification on him, law enforcement officials have said.
Her family told Australia’s Channel 7 News that Danley had no idea what was about to transpire. All she knew was that Paddock had told her to leave the country a week earlier, and had bought her a cheap ticket to the Philippines. “She was sent away,” her sister tearfully tells the reporter:
Sister of the Las Vegas gunman's girlfriend say she was "sent away" to Philippines before deadly shooting.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 4, 2017
Her sisters, who live in Australia, believe she knew nothing of Paddock’s deadly intentions.
“She didn’t even know that she was going to the Philippines, until Steve said ‘Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines,’” one of the women, who spoke on condition they were not identified, told NBC’s Australian partner, Channel 7.
“She was sent away. She was [sent] away so that she will not be there to interfere with what he’s planning. … so that he can plan what he is planning without interruptions,” she speculated.
The woman added: “In that sense I thank him for sparing my sister’s life but that won’t be to compensate the 59 people’s lives.”
Perhaps, but that doesn’t quite add up. Police have found dozens of weapons in Paddock’s possession, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. It’s possible that he bought them all after Danley left, but it seems very unlikely. Wouldn’t she have thought that something odd was going on when Paddock began stockpiling the weapons? Also, why buy her a “cheap ticket” to the Philippines only to wire $100,000 into her country afterward? If that money wasn’t for Danley, then who was the intended recipient, and how did Paddock connect with them? Danley would be the obvious connection, if she wasn’t the beneficiary of the wire transfer.
Paddock’s brother is sure the money was for Danley:
“One hundred thousand dollars isn’t that huge amount of money,” he said. “Condemn Steve for gambling. Steve took care of the people he loved. He made me and my family wealthy.”
Paddock may have “manipulated her so that she was far away from this and had money,” Eric Paddock added. “As he was descending into hell … he wanted to take care of her.”
Maaaayyyyybeeeeee. Paddock wasn’t exactly known for his tender loving care of Danley, the baristas at his local Starbucks recalled for the LA Times:
The workers behind the counter at the Starbucks inside the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nev., winced whenever Stephen Paddock and his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, lined up for their usual beverages.
That’s because Paddock had a nasty habit of berating Danley in public. “It happened a lot,” Esperanza Mendoza, supervisor of the Starbucks, said Tuesday. …
The abuse would come when she asked to use his casino card to make the purchase, Mendoza said. The card enables gamblers to use credits earned on electronic gambling machines to pay for souvenirs or food in the casino.
“He would glare down at her and say — with a mean attitude — ‘You don’t need my casino card for this. I’m paying for your drink, just like I’m paying for you.’ Then she would softly say, ‘OK’ and step back behind him. He was so rude to her in front of us.”
That doesn’t sound like Danley acted as a Svengali, but it also doesn’t sound like a man willing to fork over $100,000 at a pop to “take care of her.” Just like the rest of the case, Danley prompts lots of questions — and may be the only person who can provide answers to Clark County investigators. A “person of interest,” indeed.