A laptop computer has been recovered from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from which Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, opened fire on a crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest festival, killing 58 and wounding hundreds more.
The laptop, which could have provided investigators with a potential source of information on Paddock’s motivation, is missing its hard drive.
It’s believed that Paddock himself removed the hard drive before shooting himself, sources told ABC News, and the device has not yet been recovered.
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The absence of the device, paired with information from a source claiming that Paddock purchased software designed to erase files from a hard drive, is puzzling investigators. Without the hard drive, it is impossible to know whether Paddock actually used the software or not.
This informational void about Paddock’s motive for such a senseless slaughter has lead to an influx of conspiracy theories about the shooting, ranging from claims that it was an Illuminati “blood sacrifice” ritual to the most recent claim that Ellen DeGeneres was part of a conspiracy that planned the attack.
Information from friends and family has proven hard to come by as Paddock was somewhat of a loner. Though he spent time building his arsenal, there are conflicting reports about whether or not his girlfriend Marilou Danley believed Paddock had mental issues. A Las Vegas Review-Journal report from Oct. 10 said she “told investigators in Los Angeles she had no concerns about [Paddock’s] mental health,” despite reports claiming otherwise.
While other mass murders have left behind writing pointing to their motivations, such as manifestos, Paddock is far from the only one to leave only silence. And ABC News points out that if the missing hard drive does indeed contain information relevant to the shooting, Paddock is “not the first mass shooter to destroy or hide digital clues.”
Most recently, the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza removed and smashed the hard drive from his computer before committing the attack. Earlier this week, the FBI released more than 1,500 documents from Newton that indicate that Lanza may have been a pedophile and believed he was “saving” children through the shooting.