The girlfriend of Stephen Paddock has returned to the US – whisked through customs in a wheelchair – to be questioned by officers desperately hoping she can provide an insight into what led him to carry out his act of mass slaughter.
Marilou Danley, 62, flew into Los Angeles from the Philippines, her home country, on Tuesday night and was met by FBI agents who took her out of a side exit to avoid waiting television crews.
Ms Danley, who was not placed under arrest, was captured on footage broadcast by NBC News, being swiftly pushed on a wheelchair, using her left hand to keep a baseball cap pressed down on her head. A lawyer representing her told US media she was being treated as a witness.
Previously, Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, who has called Ms Danley a “person of interest” in the attack, said that “we anticipate some information from her shortly”. He said he was “absolutely” confident authorities would determine what led the 64-year-old to carry out the killings.
As police and investigative agents scramble for clues to explain what led the retired accountant to check into a well-positioned suite in a hotel overlooking a country music event, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500, they are increasingly hopeful his girlfriend of several years could help fill in some blanks.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, speaking at a cybersecurity forum in Boston on Wednesday, said investigators were “reconstructing the life, the behaviour, the pattern of activity of [Paddock] and anyone and everyone who may have crossed his path in the days and the weeks leading up to this horrific event”.
“This individual and this attack didn’t leave the sort of immediately accessible thumbprints that you find on some mass casualty attacks,” he said.
It is known that Ms Danley was in Asia on Sunday night, having arrived in the Philippines on 15 September.
The Associated Press reported that according to immigration documents, she left on 22 September then returned three days later on a flight from Hong Kong. She holds Australian citizenship and was travelling on an Australian passport.
Investigators believe that in the days before he opened fire from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, Paddock had wired $100,000 to a bank account in the Philippines. It was not immediately clear if it was for her or members of her family.
Philippines immigration bureau spokeswoman Antonette Mangrobang said authorities there had been working with US officials.
“From the very beginning, we have been providing them necessary information that would aid their investigation,” she told the AP.
Ms Danley’s sisters believe Paddock sent her away so she would not interfere with his plans.
Australia’s Channel 7 TV network interviewed the sisters with their faces obscured and their names withheld. They said they believe their sister could not have known about his ideas. They said Ms Danley was a “good person” who would have sought to stop him doing anything so staggering.
Speaking from her home on Australia’s Gold Coast, one of the women said: “I know that she don’t know anything as well, like us. She was sent away. She was sent away so that she will be not there to interfere with what he’s planning.”
She added: “In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life.”
Meanwhile, it was also reported Paddock had this summer been prescribed anti-anxiety medication that can cause aggression in some of those who take it.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal said it located records that showed he was given a prescription for 50 pills of diazepam, brand name Valium, in late June.
The Washington Post said Paddock met Ms Danley several years ago while she was working as a high-limit hostess for Club Paradise at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada, according to his brother Eric Paddock.
“They were adorable – big man, tiny woman. He loved her. He doted on her,” said Eric Paddock.
It is known that Paddock travelled at least twice to the Philippines, where his girlfriend was born, according to a Filipino official who spoke to the AP.
The official said Paddock visited the Philippines in 2013 and 2014, around his birthday, staying for five to six days on both occasions. There were no immediate details available about those trips, according to the official.
Mr Lombardo said on Tuesday, on the eve of a visit to Las Vegas by President Donald Trump and the First Lady, that the investigation was proceeding cautiously in case criminal charges were warranted against someone else.
“This investigation is not ended with the demise of Mr Paddock,” he said. “Did this person get radicalised unbeknownst to us? [If so]...we want to identify that source.”
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