LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – The girlfriend of the gunman who slaughtered 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas was expected to be questioned on Wednesday over the mass shooting at a music festival that has baffled investigators probing the killer’s motive.
Las Vegas police have called Marilou Danley, who returned to the United States late Tuesday, a “person of interest.” Her relatives in the Philippines told news media she had a “clean conscience” and no prior knowledge of the attack, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.More than 500 people were injured, some trampled in the pandemonium, when Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire on an outdoor country music festival for about 10 minutes on Sunday night. He killed himself before police stormed his room on the 32nd-floor of the hotel, where they found as many as 23 guns.
Twelve of his rifles were fitted with bump-stock devices, officials said, allowing the guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons.
U.S. President Donald Trump landed in Las Vegas on Wednesday to pay respects to the dead and support first responders, marking the first time he has had to deal as president with a major mass shooting of the type that have killed hundreds of people in recent years in the United States.
Trump, who has called the massacre “an act of pure evil,” said unanswered questions surrounding the investigation would be revealed “at the appropriate time.”
Investigators have focused on Paddock’s girlfriend Danley, 62, who arrived in Los Angles from her native Philippines on Tuesday night. A U.S. official said Danley was not under arrest but that the Federal Bureau of Investigation hoped she would consent to be interviewed voluntarily.
Danley had assured her family she has a “clean conscience” following Sunday night’s rampage, her brother told ABC News in the Philippines.
“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,’” Reynaldo Bustos told ABC in Manila.
Investigators were examining a $100,000 wire transfer Paddock sent to an account in the Philippines that “appears to have been intended” for Danley, a senior U.S. homeland security official said on Tuesday.
Paddock’s brother Eric told reporters the money transfer was evidence that “Steve took care of the people he loved” and that he likely wanted to protect Danley by sending her overseas ahead of the attack.
“He manipulated her to be completely as far away from this and safe when he did this,” Eric Paddock said on Tuesday.
She arrived in Manila on Sept. 15, flew to Hong Kong on Sept. 22 and returned to Manila on Sept. 25. She was there until she flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday night, according to a Philippine immigration official.
Paddock had no criminal record, no known history of mental illness and no outward signs of social disaffection, political discontent or extremist ideology, police said.
“We are not there yet,” FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said on Wednesday, speaking at the Cambridge Cyber Summit in Boston. “We have a lot to do.”
However, Paddock appeared to be “descending into madness” in the months before the shooting, ABC News reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed person briefed on the investigation.
Paddock had significant weight loss, an increasingly slovenly appearance and was obsessed with his girlfriend’s former husband, ABC said.
In June he was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug diazepam, commonly known as Valium, which can lead to aggressive behavior, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, citing records from the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program.
Reuters was not able immediately to confirm the two reports.
“He was a private guy,” Eric Paddock said of his brother. “That’s why you can’t find out anything about him. Is he such a weirdo because he didn’t have a Facebook account and post 50,000 pictures of himself every day?”
Paddock’s case is extremely rare if not unique in that he left behind no clues to his motives, said Craig Jackson, a psychology professor at Birmingham City University in Britain who has studied spree killers for the past 10 years.
“We usually find something there in the background where they see themselves to be the victims. No one has listened to them and they feel this is the last recourse,” Jackson said, adding that spree killers typically leave behind a manifesto or video diary.
“If there is something, I think we would have found it by now,” Jackson said.
(GRAPHIC: Las Vegas Attack – tmsnrt.rs/2xOJf3T)
Additional reporting by Lisa Girion in Las Vegas, Steve Holland with the president, Jonathan Allen in New York, Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Manuel Mogato in Manila and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis