By ELLEN GABLER and CONOR DOUGHERTY
The girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman, Marilou Danley, arrived in the United States from the Philippines late Tuesday, officials said. Danley, 62, who had been overseas since before the shooting, 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.
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. She had been in the Philippines from Sept. 25, roughly a week before the shooting, until Tuesday, when she flew from Manila to Los Angeles, according to Antonette Mangrobang, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Immigration Bureau.
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.
Danley arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Manila on Tuesday and was met by authorities, according to law enforcement officials.
Family members and former neighbors were shocked to see Danley’s name surface in connection with the shooting on news reports, as the 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, Tennessee. 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, and eventually 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, they 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, 68, a retired dental receptionist, occasionally attended Zumba 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.”
Philippine immigration officials said Danley left Manila on Sept. 22 for a trip to Hong Kong and returned 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. Although 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.”