Marilou Danley, the Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend, deleted evidence of her relationship with the shooter an hour before police revealed his name.
Paddock murdered 58 people attending an outdoor music concert on the Las Vegas Strip by firing at them from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort. He injured 500 others.
Danley claimed to police who interviewed her upon her return to the United States that she indicated to them that she had “no prior inclination of Paddock’s intentions to conduct the attack,” according to the FBI affidavit.
However, unsealed FBI documents tell a very different story.
The affidavit pertaining to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history shows that FBI agents sought Danley’s email and social media accounts, who was in the Philippines when the shooting took place.
While the FBI’s discovery did not answer why the 64-year-old shooter carried out the massacre before killing himself, they did reveal that Danley may have known about what he had planned as she deleted her Facebook account before Paddock’s identity was even revealed to the public—but her involvement as an accomplice remains uncertain.
Per the emergency calls, Paddock began shooting at 10:08 p.m. Danley deleted her Facebook account at 2:46 a.m.—an hour before authorities released his name at 3:30 a.m.
Her actions suggest that she knew Paddock was behind the attack. Compounding her possible involvement is a casino player’s card found in Paddock’s room at the time of the attack with Danley’s name on it, and a wire transfer of an undisclosed amount of money to Danley in September for reasons unknown.
“She has been identified thus far as the most likely person who aided or abetted Stephen Paddock based on her informing law enforcement that her fingerprints would likely be found on the ammunition used during the attack,” wrote Special Agent Ryan S. Burke in the FBI affidavit.
Danley is adamant that she was unaware of his plans to carry out the massacre. As of October, The FBI has not found conclusive evidence to suggest she assisted him, but she remains a “subject of intensive review.”
The affidavit was part of more than 300 pages that federal prosecutors have made available to the public on Friday, following an order by U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey.
Further revelations from the documents show that Paddock planned to carry out his massacre with methodical precision by carefully covering his steps from police detection.
The FBI believes that he took steps to “thwart the eventual law enforcement investigation” by deleting or concealing his digital storage, and used at least one burner phone. In the year leading up to the massacre, Paddock amassed a vast array of weapons and ammo by purchasing them off the Internet, along with glass cutters, and luggage cases to carry them.
“The methodical nature of the planning employed by Paddock, coupled with his efforts to undermine the preceding investigation, are factors indicative of a level of sophistication which is commonly found in mass casualty events such as this,” the documents state.
The FBI affidavit states that authorities found more than 20 firearms, and hundreds of spent and unspent rounds. They also discovered a set of body armor and a homemade gas mask.
Curiously, the documents include a chain of cryptic emails made on July 6, 2017, in which Paddock sent an email to [email protected], which read “try an ar before u buy. we have huge selection. located in las vegas area.”
Later that day, the [email protected] email replied: “we have wide variety of optics and ammunition to try.”
Paddock sent another email back to the [email protected] account, stating: “for a thrill try out bumpfire ar’s with a 100 round magazine.”
The FBI determined that the communications, which sound like advertisements for guns and modifications, to be codewords for the eventual attack at Mandalay Bay. Authorities do not know why he would have sent the messages to himself (if it was indeed Paddock), but suspect that further investigations may identify other possible participants in the attack.
As of December, the FBI said that they will not brief the public about Stephen Paddock’s motive until a full report is released before the tragedy’s first anniversary later this year.