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Las Vegas gunman's girlfriend returns to U.S. for questioning

Marilou Danley, the longtime girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman, returned to the United States late Tuesday and was met at the airport by FBI agents, who are hoping she can shed light on what drove Stephen Paddock to open fire from his casino hotel room two nights earlier.

Paddock killed at least 58 people and injured more than 500 on the Las Vegas Strip before killing himself. Danley was in the Philippines at the time of the attack, but flew back to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The FBI plans to speak to Danley at the bureau's Los Angeles field office, authorities said Wednesday.

As investigators continue to search for a motive, new details have emerged about Paddock and his relationship to Danley.

Paddock met 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, said his brother Eric Paddock.

"They were adorable — big man, tiny woman. He loved her. He doted on her," Eric said Tuesday in Florida.

The two often gambled side by side, he said. Authorities say that before the shooting, Paddock transferred a large amount of money — close to $100,000 — to someone in the Philippines, possibly his girlfriend. Eric Paddock said he now believes his brother may have been trying to arrange for Danley to be abroad before carrying out the massacre.

RELATED: Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock: High-stakes gambler, 'lone wolf'

Employees at a Starbucks in Mesquite, Nevada, however, described the couple's relationship differently. A supervisor at the coffee shop told the Los Angeles Times that Paddock often berated Danley in public. The Starbucks is the only one in town and is inside the Virgin River Casino.

"It happened a lot," Esperanza Mendoza, supervisor of the Starbucks, told the Times. He would verbally abuse her when Danley asked to use his casino card to buy food or other things inside the casino, Mendoza said.

"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, 'Okay' and step back behind him. He was so rude to her in front of us."

The girlfriend

Danley is from the Philippines, but Australian authorities have confirmed she is a citizen there.

Danley has two sisters who live in Australia, according to news outlets there and old Facebook posts by the sisters, which have been deleted in recent days.

RELATED: Acts of heroism emerge in chaos of Las Vegas shooting

Australian media identified the sisters as Liza Werner and Amelia Manango.

In a picture posted by Werner, Danley appears with the two women as well as Danley's daughter.

The sisters did not respond to messages or calls.

But two women identified by an Australian television network as Danley's sisters - though not by name - said Wednesday that they believe Paddock had arranged Danley's trip to the Philippines so that she wouldn't interfere with his plans.

She was shocked to know she was leaving, the women told Seven Network Australia, their faces blurred.

"He sent her away, so that he can plan what he is planning without interruptions," the women said. "In that sense I thank him for sparing my sister's life. But that won't … compensate the [dead] people's lives."

Paddock at one point was a frequent gambler at the casino where Danley once worked. She was a high-limit hostess for Club Paradise, a rewards program in the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, according to her LinkedIn profile. In a statement, Atlantis officials said she has not worked for the casino for several years.

Paddock was such a regular at the Atlantis that his entire family once took over the top floor at the casino's expense, his brother said.

According to court records, Danley may have been living with Paddock as early as August 2013, while she was still married to another man, Geary Danley.

Geary and Marilou Danley were married in Las Vegas in 1990. According to court records, they jointly filed for divorce on Feb. 25, 2015, and the divorce was finalized the next day. During her divorce, Marilou Danley listed a downtown Reno apartment as her address. Property records show the apartment was owned by Paddock.

RELATED: Las Vegas gunman had device that lets guns fire like automatic

Paddock invested and sold several properties in recent years as a way of making money, according to relatives and property records. Neighbors at two other properties owned by Paddock in Reno and Mesquite said Danley lived with Paddock there as well and often disappeared with him for long stretches — sometimes for months at a time — during his visits to casinos.

At one point, Danley worked for an airline based out of the San Francisco Bay area, said one longtime neighbor in Reno, where Danley and Paddock lived together in a retirement community. She later worked for Avon, the cosmetic sales company, and tried to sell their products to other residents, Elizabeth Tyee said. Danley traveled all the time, and when she was at the home she shared with Paddock in a retirement community in Reno, it was never for very long. Tyee said Danley would show up every three or four months and stay for no more than 10 days.

Key witness

Danley is considered a critical witness in trying to decipher Paddock's motive.

While investigators have described Danley as a "person of interest," they have not suggested that she is considered an accomplice or involved in any way. Still, given how little has emerged in Paddock's past that could foreshadow the attack, the "best lead is through this girlfriend," said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

The women identified by Seven Network Australia as her sisters agreed.

"No one can put the puzzles together — no one except Marilou," one of the women said. "Because Steve is not here to talk anymore. Only Marilou can maybe help.

"She probably was even more shocked than us because she is more closer to him than us. You know, to be able to find out the person you love and live with can do such a thing? And you thought you know the person yourself."

Danley has a daughter and grandchildren, the women said.

Tyee and many other neighbors described Danley as extremely sweet and friendly. She hugged her when they saw each other. Paddock, however, was more standoffish.

This summer, Tyee saw Danley and Paddock moving a mattress and saw inside their garage, which was completely empty. Tyee asked Danley whether they were moving, and Danley said they had bought a new house but were not moving out of Reno.

Another neighbor, Susan Page, who moved next door to the couple this summer, said she had not seen them since August. Paddock had recently bought a new silver minivan, she said, and Danley drove an SUV. On the third week of August, Paddock left the house. Soon after, Danley packed up her car as well, as if she was moving, Page said.

The gunman

More details have also emerged on Paddock, the gunman.

From 1976 to 1985, Paddock worked federal government jobs: as a letter carrier for the Postal Service, an agent for the IRS and an auditor for U.S. government's Defense Contract Audit Agency, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Neighbors in several states where he owned homes in retirement communities described him as surly and unfriendly.

RELATED: The stories of the lives lost in the Las Vegas shooting

Relatives say the roots of Paddock's loner lifestyle may have been planted July 28, 1960. On that day, when Paddock was 7, a neighbor from across the street took him swimming. The neighbor at the time told a local newspaper that she knew authorities were coming for his father, a bank robber, and she wanted to spare the boy the trauma of seeing his father hauled away by authorities.

From that point on, Paddock's family was never the same.

His mother struggled to raise him and his brothers on her own. His father escaped from prison — twice — and had little more contact with them, relatives say. As they grew older, Stephen, the eldest, and the youngest brother, Eric, kept in touch, but Stephen Paddock drifted almost completely out of touch with his two other brothers, Bruce and Patrick.

Eric said that Stephen stopped talking to his brother Bruce because Bruce used to beat him up when they were kids and that Stephen stopped talking to Patrick because they're very different people.

Even with Eric he never talked much. They created a lucrative real estate investment business together, but Stephen would only text Eric now and then.

"We didn't talk much. We talked when there was something to talk about," Eric Paddock said. "Steve had no help. Steve did not take help. He was a stand-alone guy."

Choking up as he talked, Eric said: "Steve was like a dad surrogate. He took me camping. I liked my brother. He was a good guy."

High school

Stephen Paddock went to John H. Francis Polytechnic High School, in the Los Angeles suburbs, his brother said.

Judy Smith Nelson, a retired federal worker living in Las Vegas, was stunned when she first saw that she and the alleged shooter were the same age — 64. Then a friend texted her a picture from an old high school yearbook.

"I couldn't believe it. I recognized the face. We had been classmates," Nelson said Tuesday.

As investigators continued searching for a motive, anyone who had come into contact with Paddock over more than four decades began to wrestle with what they knew of the man and whether there had ever been clues of what would come.

Former California state senator Richard Alarcon, who had gotten his start as student body president of John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in 1971, posted a note to friends on Facebook on Tuesday saying he remembered playing basketball with Paddock at a neighborhood court.

Another classmate remembered Paddock showing up at a 20-year reunion and repeatedly angling to talk to her.

Nelson, in Las Vegas, fished through an old box of keepsakes and found a 10-year reunion program that contained a one-line description that each classmate had written. Paddock's read: "Single, accountant, has traveled to Hollywood, lives in Sepulveda [Calif.]"

"We're all just reeling, and here I have kind of a personal connection, being that we walked the same grounds, we were from the same area," Nelson said.

After high school, Paddock attended Cal State Northridge. He was married and divorced twice. Both ex-wives — one in the Los Angeles area, the other in the Dallas suburbs - declined to talk to reporters.

Las Vegas gunman's girlfriend returns to U.S. for questioning 10/04/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 3:45pm]
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