The FBI must handle its interrogation of Stephen Paddock’s live-in girlfriend delicately if they are to get her to talk without bringing in a lawyer, a high-profile lawyer told Fox News.
Marilou Danley, 62, is Paddock’s long-time girlfriend, perhaps the only person that was close to him and a constant companion in his frequent travels. She is a “person of interest” in the shooting investigation, according to Clark County, Nevada Sheriff Joseph Lombardo.
She returned to the United States on Tuesday, Oct. 3, to speak with FBI agents investigating the shooting. Paddock had dispatched her to her home country of the Philippines shortly before the shooting.
Danley may also be the only person that knows why a successful property investor who spent his time traveling and gambling carried out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Former Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz told Fox and Friends there is a likely script the FBI will use to get the most information they can from Danley about what drove her now deceased boyfriend to kill 58 people.
Success will hinge on the FBI convincing Danly she is not a suspect and that her cooperation in providing as much information as possible about the shooting is her best option to keep from becoming one, said Dershowitz.
“If she begins to believe that she is a suspect, she’s going to get a lawyer, the lawyers are then going to begin to play chess with the government,” he told Fox & Friends.
Dershowitz said investigators should ask Danley to remember details that seemed irrelevant before the shooting but may be meaningful now, such as phone calls Paddock may have received from foreign sources.
The FBI could also play hardball with Danley if she doesn’t seem cooperative, threatening to make a case against her, possibly using the $100,000 Paddock wired to her while in the Philippines as evidence of a buy off meant to keep her silent.
Danley’s sisters told Australia’s 7 News that the couple loved each other and that they believe Paddock sent Danley away to save her from being implicated in or interfering with his murders.
“She didn’t even know that she was going to the Philippines until Steve said ‘Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines’,” the sisters told 7 News, their faces blurred and identities withheld.
The sisters said they didn’t even know their sister had returned to the Philippines two weeks ago and said Danley did not know what Paddock was planning.
“I know that she doesn’t know anything as well like us,” one of the sisters, who chose to remain anonymous, said.
While the sister’s claim Danley knew nothing of the shootings, they also believe she may be the only person who can piece together why Paddock did what he did.
There have been mixed reports as to the health of the couple’s relationship.
Both the sisters and Paddock’s youngest brother, Eric Paddock, say the couple had a loving relationship.
Paddock told the New York Times that his older brother doted on Danley.
“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.
But the elder Paddock also allegedly berated his girlfriend in public frequently, a supervisor at a Starbucks inside the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nevada, told the Los Angeles Times.
“It happened a lot,” Esperanza Mendoza, told the LA Times.
According to Mendoza, Paddock would demean Danley when she asked to use his casino card to buy food or other things inside the casino, Esperanza 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.”