LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock encouraged his live-in girlfriend, Marilou Danley, to leave the country before his attack that left 58 people dead, her sisters told CNN affiliate Seven Network Australia.
The sisters, who spoke to Seven News exclusively, did not want to be identified by name and requested their faces be blurred.
“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,” one of Danley’s sisters told Seven News from their home in Australia’s Gold Coast region.
“In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life,” she said, adding her sister was “really in love with Steve.”
The other sister said Danley, who arrived late Tuesday in Los Angeles from the Philippines, “didn’t even know that she was going to the Philippines, until Steve said, ‘Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines.'”
She added Danley was likely “even (more) shocked than us” by his actions.
“Of all the people that they have interviewed, … no one can put the puzzles together — no one — except Marilou, because Steve is not here to talk anymore. Only Marilou can maybe help,” the sister said.
“If Marilou was there, this, maybe, as well, didn’t happen because she won’t let it happen,” she said.
Police to question Danley
After the attack, authorities in the United States, the Philippines and Australia joined efforts to search for Danley, hoping she might shed some light on the motive behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Danley landed Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport, a law enforcement source told CNN. She was accompanied by the FBI in Los Angeles, where Las Vegas police planned to question her, the source said.
Danley, 62, who travels on an Australian passport, arrived from Manila, said Maria Antoinette Mangrobang, the Philippine Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman. Danley had arrived in the Philippines from Tokyo on September 15, then left for Hong Kong on September 22, and flew back to the Philippines on September 25, Mangrobang said.
Authorities in the Philippines had communicated with the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security regarding her travel, the spokeswoman said.
In the Seven News interview, one sister said Danley was working with authorities and would willingly answer their questions upon landing in the United States.
“She’s a good person, a gentle soul, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend,” the sister said, adding that Danley was having trouble coping with the tragedy because “she’s a very weak person.”
Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Tuesday his investigators were hoping to speak with Danley. Law enforcement authorities had been in communication with her and anticipated “some information here from her shortly,” he said during a news conference.
$100,000 wired to the Philippines
Paddock had recently wired $100,000 to the Philippines, a US law enforcement source confirmed to CNN. Officials weren’t immediately able to learn the precise date of the transfer, and the FBI was working with Philippine authorities on the matter, the source said.
Photos from 2013 show Paddock visiting the southeastern Asian island nation.
So far, police believe Paddock acted alone — which could make his motive harder to determine.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, police described Danley only as a “traveling companion” of the shooter.
Danley’s sisters said they had met Paddock two or three times.
“(He was) very quiet, not sociable. He keep to himself. One question, you get your answer directly. That’s it,” one sister said.
“It’s a pity, though, because he’s the only one really who can answer this,” she said. “But he cheated. He cheated. He escaped and (left) us here putting the puzzles together.”
‘Good and gentle person’
The search for Danley initially spanned several countries, with conflicting reports that she could have been in Japan or the Philippines at the time of the shooting.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said her government was working with US authorities but told CNN affiliate Sky News on Monday that Australia had had no direct contact with Danley.
Danley lived with Paddock in Mesquite, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas. It’s unclear when the couple met.
Danley in February 2015 filed a joint petition for divorce with her now ex-husband, whose surname she has kept, court records show.
At the time, Danley was living in Reno, on the border of Nevada and California, according to the court document. She once worked at the Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa in Reno, which said Danley left the company “several years ago.”
The daughters of Danley’s ex-husband described their former stepmother as a “good and gentle person,” they told CNN affiliate KHBS.
“I know she has to be devastated about what has happened,” Dionne Waltrip said, adding that the family, which now lives in Arkansas, has been receiving death threats after her father was erroneously identified online as the shooter.
“This is a horrific event, and our hearts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this terrible act,” Waltrip said. “Our family doesn’t know Stephen Paddock, and has no knowledge of Marilou’s relationship with Mr. Paddock.”
By James Griffiths, Nic Robertson and Evan Perez, CNN