Nation

Las Vegas gunman’s girlfriend was ‘madly in love’

This undated photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Marilou Danley. Danley, 62, returned to the United States from the Philippines on Tuesday night, Oct. 3, 2017, and was met at Los Angeles International Airport by FBI agents, according to a law enforcement official. Authorities are trying to determine why Stephen Paddock, Danley's boyfriend, killed dozens of people in Las Vegas Oct. 1, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP, File)

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP

Marilou Danley, 62.

The girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman, Marilou Danley, arrived at the Los Angeles Federal Building early Wednesday for questioning by the FBI, a law enforcement official said.

Danley, 62, who had been overseas since before the shooting but returned to the United States on Tuesday night, is one of the few people who might know what drove the gunman, Stephen Paddock, to kill 58 people and wound hundreds more from a Las Vegas hotel this week.

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She is considered a “person of interest” in the investigation of the attack, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Tuesday afternoon.

It is not clear what, if anything, Danley knew about Paddock’s methodical plans to stockpile weapons and ferry them into a 32nd-floor hotel suite to commit mass murder.

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Paddock had recently wired thousands of dollars to the Philippines, a law enforcement official said.

“Person of interest” is a vague term that does not necessarily indicate that the person is suspected of committing a crime. Danley has not been charged with any crime, but investigators are hoping she will have insight into Paddock’s motives.

Federal agents met Danley at her plane at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a law enforcement official. She evaded reporters waiting at the international terminal, and it was not known where she spent the night.

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In an interview with an Australian news station, two sisters of Danley’s said she had been sent to the Philippines two weeks before the shooting.

“He sent her away so that he can plan what he is planning without interruptions,” one sister said. “In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life.”

But she said that would not compensate for the dozens who were killed.

The two sisters were interviewed anonymously, with their faces obscured. Danley’s sisters Liza Werner and Amelia Manango live in Australia.

“She didn’t even know she was going to the Philippines until Steve said, ‘Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines,’” one of the sisters said.

They said their sister was “madly in love” with Paddock and that she “probably was even more shocked than us” by the shooting. And they vouched for their sister’s character, calling her a “gentle soul.”

“He done this solely himself,” one said.

Reynaldo Bustos, her older brother, told ABC News that he called Danley after hearing about the shooting. “I called her up immediately and she said, ‘Relax, we shouldn’t worry about it. I’ll fix it. Do not panic. I have a clean conscience,’” he said.

Family members and former neighbors were shocked to see Danley’s name surface in connection with the shooting on news reports, as police sought to find her hours after Paddock killed himself in his hotel room.

“She’s probably one of the most happy, outgoing, full-of-life people I’ve ever known,” said Dionne Waltrip, Danley’s former stepdaughter, who lives outside Fayetteville, Arkansas. “Everyone who has ever met her likes her.”

Waltrip said her father, Geary Danley, traveled the world as an auditor for FedEx and met his future wife overseas.

Marilou Danley has ties to the Philippines, and several news reports said she was born there. She spent many years in Australia, where news reports said she was married, and is an Australian citizen.

After meeting Geary Danley, she moved to Memphis. The couple wed in 1990 and their marriage lasted 25 years.

Marilou Danley worked retail jobs, selling mostly clothing and jewelry. Both she and Geary Danley had children from prior relationships. Waltrip was 20 when the couple got together; Marilou Danley has a daughter who now lives in California. The couple moved to Nevada when they retired.

“They were extremely happy,” Waltrip said. “They loved each other very much.”

But before the marriage ended, Marilou Danley met Paddock. She was working at a casino and he was a high-limit player, casino employees said. She worked there from 2010 to 2013, according to her LinkedIn account.

John Weinreich, an executive casino host at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa at the time, said he believed that Marilou Danley frequently attended to Paddock, serving him food and pointing out which machines might be ripe for a payout.

When she was around, Weinreich said, Paddock did not seem to break from his intense gaming persona at all. Eventually, Danley became his regular host.

“Then she was just gone one day,” he said. “I asked some fellow workers and they said she went off with Stephen.”

She and Geary Danley divorced in 2015. On the divorce papers, she listed her address as a condominium in Reno owned by Paddock.

At the hilltop subdivision where the Danleys lived in Sparks, Nevada, before the divorce, neighbors described Marilou Danley as a chatty extrovert who hosted cookouts and brought copious amounts of Filipino food to the semiannual block parties.

“She was always cooking,” said Christine Riley, 46, a dietitian who lived a few doors down from Marilou Danley’s former residence.

But when Danley was living with Paddock in a Reno subdivision, the couple were not viewed as sociable. “I thought maybe he was sick or something, because they were always in the house and the shades were always drawn shut,” said Susan Page, a retired financial analyst who was the couple’s next-door neighbor. Page said she occasionally saw Paddock working on an older sport utility vehicle that seemed to be Danley’s car, and other neighbors said he had a large safe in the garage.

“They weren’t outgoing,” she said. “They didn’t participate in anything. Everybody around here, they go over to each other’s houses, they have a drink and they chitchat.”

Page added, “It wasn’t that they were unfriendly, they just didn’t socialize.”

On her own, Danley could be friendly. Connie Allred, a 68-year-old retired dental receptionist, occasionally attended Zumba fitness classes with Danley at the subdivision’s clubhouse. She described Danley as a warm “world traveler” who went abroad several times a year and visited family in the Philippines and Los Angeles.

“She was always gone,” Allred said. “She’s a hard one to keep track of. We’d be in Zumba and then all of a sudden she would say, ‘I’m leaving for a couple months,’ and then she’d be back and then she’s traveling other places.”

Allred said she never met Paddock and Danley rarely talked about him, though she did mention his gambling habit. “She told us he was a professional gambler. She would laugh. We would tell our stories like, ‘We’ll go to the casino and I have my $20 limit,’ and she’s laughing us, like, ‘Oh he’s in the thirty, forty, fifty, hundred thousand range.’ And I’m like, ‘Whoa!’”

Philippine immigration officials told ABS-CBN News, a Philippine news organization, that Danley left Manila on Sept. 22 for a trip to Hong Kong and returned on Sept. 25.

Eric Paddock, Stephen Paddock’s youngest brother, said his brother loved Danley and doted on her. For her part, he said, Danley made compromises like doing without perfume, hair spray and bubble baths in order to not set off his allergies. Though his brother was a multimillionaire, he said, he did not believe she was with him because he had money.

Some people who knew Stephen Paddock said he could take on an imperious, exacting demeanor. But with Danley, he was different, Eric Paddock said.

“She was probably one of the only people I’ve ever seen that he’d go out of his way to do a little thing for,” he said. “He went out of his way to be nice to her. This is not something Steve does — go out of his way.”

He added: “Steve expected people to wait on him for the most part. But he waited on her sometimes. He would do what she wanted to do. He would defer to her in the way that he wouldn’t to the rest of humanity. Even me.”

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