Marilou Danley, the Filipino girlfriend of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, said she had no knowledge of Paddock’s plan when meeting with the FBI at the Los Angeles Federal Building on Wednesday, October 4.
Investigators are hoping she can provide key information on what led to Paddock’s shooting rampage that left at least 59 people dead and over 500 injured in what is being considered the deadliest shooting attack in modern U.S. history.
“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man,” said Danley in a statement read by her attorney on Wednesday. “He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen.”
Danley — a 62-year-old Filipina who holds an Australian passport — met with FBI at the Los Angeles Federal Building on Wednesday after arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from the Philippines Tuesday night.
“I am devastated by the deaths and injuries that have occurred and my prayers go out to the victims and their families and all those who have been hurt by these awful events,” said Danley.
Her lawyer said Wednesday, that she intends to fully cooperate with the investigation on Paddock.
Defense attorney Matthew Lombard said Danley was not expecting the $100,000 Paddock sent to her in the Philippines a few days before the shooting, and was worried he was breaking up with her. A source close to Danley’s family claimed the money was to help the family build a home.
According to NBC News, law enforcement were unsure of why the money was sent, but a source close to Danley’s family claimed the money was to help the family build a home.
“I was grateful, but honestly, I was worried, that first, the unexpected trip home, and then the money, was a way of breaking up with me,” she added. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”
The shooting from Paddock’s 32nd floor Mandalay Bay Resorts and Casino room began Sunday night at around 10:08 p.m. over the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a country music festival which was just ending its third and last day of weekend festivities. Over 22,000 people were in attendance. The festival’s headliner, country singer Jason Aldean, was rushed off stage mid-song, while witnesses initially thought the gun sounds were fireworks.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Tuesday afternoon that Danley was still a “person of interest” due to her close relationship to Paddock.
“She has probably the best insight into the mind of Paddock prior to him killing all these people,” Steve Gomez, a former FBI agent, told ABC News on Tuesday. “So they definitely want to hear from her what was going on in his life.”
Police were first prompted to suspect Danley’s involvement in the shooting after Paddock had used her ID documents to check into the 32nd-floor hotel room. She was later ruled out as a person of interest, as she was believed to be either in the Philippines or Japan with friends.
Antonette Mangroband, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI), confirmed that Danley had been in the Philippines since September 25.
The relationship between Paddock and Danley was not immediately known, but new information has since been emerging as people who knew them come forward.
Born in the Philippines on December 12, 1954, Danley later moved to Queensland, Australia where she married a local and became an Australian citizen.
She later moved to the U.S. with her daughter in the late 1980s, according to Australia’s ABC. There, she married a FedEx auditor, Geary Danley from Arkansas in 1990.
“She’s probably one of the most happy, outgoing, full-of-life people I’ve ever known,” said Geary’s daughter, Diane Waltrip, of her former stepmother to the New York Times. “Everyone who has ever met her likes her.”
Paddock’s younger brother Eric Paddock, said Danley met Stephen while she was working as a high-limit hostess for Club Paradise at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada. According to a deleted LinkedIn account, Danley had worked as a “gambling and casino professional” in Reno from 2010 to 2013.
It was in 2013 that Paddock and Danley were said to have started dating after Danley left Geary, whom she later divorced in 2015.
“They were adorable — big man, tiny woman. He loved her. He doted on her,” said Eric, adding that the Paddock and Danley often gambled together.
“She was probably one of the only I’ve ever seen that he’d go out of his way to do a little thing for. He went out of this way to be nice to her. This is not something Steve does — go out of his way.”
Workers at the Starbucks in the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nevada — where Paddock and Danley reportedly lived — shared a different perspective on the couple and said Paddock had a “nasty habit of berating Danley in public.”
The Starbuck’s supervisor Esperanza Mendoza told the Los Angeles Times that Paddock would often get mad at Danley when she would ask to use his casino card for purchases.
“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,” said Mendoza.
Two women identified to be Danley’s sisters shared with Australia’s 7 News Sydney that Danley was sent away to the Philippines by Paddock.
“I know that she don’t know anything as well like us,” said Danley’s sister. “She was sent away. She was away so that she will not be there to interfere with what he’s planning.”
Eric Paddock had a similar comment and told the Washington Post that his brother had “manipulated her to be as far away from here and safe when he committed this.”
Danley’s sister added that Danley did not even know of her trip to the Philippines beforehand.
“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’,” said Danley’s sister.
“In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life. But that won’t be to compensate the 59 people’s lives,” she added.
“Marilou Danley is my sister. She is a good person and gentle soul. A mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend.”
Motive still under investigation
As Danley submits to questioning, the motive behind the attack remains unclear as of this writing. Paddock — who has been reported to have been an accountant, and a licensed pilot who owned two planes among other properties — had no major run-ins with police prior.
“We have no investigative information of background associated with this individual that is derogatory,” said Lombardo on Monday. “The only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago; that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.”
Lombardo initially described Paddock as a “lone wolf”, saying that he was believed to have acted alone in the shooting.
Upon raiding his suite, the SWAT team found Paddock dead from a self-inflicted shot to the head. Investigators also found cameras both inside and outside the suite — cameras were found in the door’s peephole, in the hallways, and on a service cart.
“It was pre-planned, extensively, and I’m pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome,” said Lombardo.
Eric revealed to the Washington Post that Paddock was an avid gambler, often gambling in tens and thousands of dollars — Eric sent the FBI three years of text messages from his brother.
“My brother is not like you and me. He plays high-stakes video poker,” he said. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.”
Their father, Benjamin Paddock, was reportedly on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list in the 1970s, and had a criminal record of bank robberies and prison escape. He was also diagnosed a psychopath.
The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the shootings, stating that Paddock had converted to Islam a few months ago, but FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said Monday that no connection to an international terrorist group has been determined as of yet.
Law enforcement officials said 12 of the rifles found in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino suite were outfitted with a “bump stock”, an apparatus that enables a gun to function like a machine gun. A total of 47 firearms were found by police in Paddock’s two houses and at the hotel.
Paddock had apparently been purchasing weapons since 1982, including 33 in the past year, said San Francisco Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, Special Agent in Charge Jill A. Snyder, to CBS News on Wednesday.
According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, sellers are only required to report sales of two or more handguns of the same buyer if the purchases were made at the same time, or within five business days of each other.
Gun shops who have sold to Paddock in the past say he cleared background checks. Snyder said Paddock made his purchases in Nevada, Utah, California, and Texas.
“No one can put the puzzles together. No one. Except Marilou,” said Danley’s sister.
“She probably was even [more] shocked than us because she was more closer to him than us,” she added. “To be able to find out that the person you live with, that you love and live with can do such a thing, and you thought you know the person yourself.”