Stephen Paddock's 'secret life'

Clark County sheriff Joseph Lombardo, an elected official who plans to face voters again next year, has been letting out more interesting tidbits on the investigation into Stephen Paddock than others who have appeared at the press conferences.  Yesterday, he mentioned that Paddock had a "secret life" and "that it was only logical to 'make the assumption' that Stephen Paddock had 'some help at some point' in pulling off Sunday's massacre."

This would seem to open the door to some sort of connection to an international terror group, but if so, evidently, there is no evidence on hand, because the sheriff also added to his secret life comment:

"What we know is Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood," the sheriff said.

My guess is that the "secret life" Paddock led was part of a life plan he had absorbed from his father, who twice lived a life on the run from police under phony identities.

In 1960, when Stephen Paddock was 7, F.B.I. agents showed up at his family's tidy white ranch house in the hills outside Tucson, Ariz., stunning the neighbors and even the local sheriff. No one could fathom that Pat Paddock, the big, jolly father of four young boys who owned a small business in town and was a special deputy at the sheriff's office, was really Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, a serial bank robber with a rap sheet that stretched back to Chicago.

"He bulged with sincerity," the sheriff told The Tucson Daily Citizen at the time, noting that Pat Paddock, who sold garbage disposals during the week, volunteered for the local search-and-rescue team and counseled wayward youths in his spare time. ...

"Mr. Paddock was such a nice man," the neighbor across the street told The Daily Citizen in 1960. "He was so attentive to his wife. He was so kind to the children, and he was always doing helpful things around the house."

The loss of his father must have been a terrible blow, and my conjecture is that it left little Steve with bitter hatred toward the society that had cruelly taken away Daddy.  I hope the computers seized from his homes that are under analysis reveal his inner thoughts.  But he may have been equally circumspect with his computers.

We have no idea for what purpose he has covered his tracks.  But we do know that his father lived as a fugitive from justice and may have taught his son, in a touching psychopath-to-psychopath moment, that for the really big scores, you have to cover your tracks.  No doubt, the moment when his father was ripped by the police from the seven-year-old boy was traumatic and may have left him with fury at the society that did that to him.

After his father's departure when he was but a child, young Steve is not known to have ever spent any further time with his father, who was sent to prison but escaped in 1968 and set up a life in Oregon under an assumed identity.  As in Tucson, he convincingly portrayed a normal, even a kindly figure, despite being a psychopath given to bank robbery:

Hiding from the F.B.I. after his prison break, Benjamin Paddock moved to Springfield, Ore., where he used the alias Bruce Werner Ericksen, grew a forked goatee and made money by turning back car odometers. In 1978, he made a deal with a small women's charity to open a bingo parlor and share the proceeds, but he kept most of the profits himself, according to a court filing.

Locals who knew nothing of his criminal record called him Bingo Bruce, and recalled a host of fanciful stories he told about his past.

"He claimed that he'd been a Dixieland band singer, pilot, auto racing crew chief, Chicago Bears pro football player, survivor of World War II minesweeper sinking and a wrestler named 'Crybaby,' " a columnist for The Eugene Register-Guard who interviewed Mr. Paddock at the time later wrote. "Some of that may have been true. With Bruce, you never knew."

At the time, his wife and children lived in California. Eric Paddock said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that in this period he learned that his father was still alive.

"I went to see him for the first time when I was 17," Eric said in an interview on Tuesday. "He was a gambler. That's how you were cool back then. So I get up there, and he starts telling me about how he used to send letters to J. Edgar Hoover, calling him a pansy. That's what he chose to tell his 17-year-old son, whom he never met before. I don't think I ever saw him again."

A photo of Bingo Bruce that ran in a local paper tipped off the authorities, and on the night of Sept. 6, 1978, federal agents arrested him outside his bingo hall.

A year later, he would once again leave federal prison early, but this time on parole. People who knew him in Oregon, including a local mayor, lobbied for his release after a year in custody, according to the article in The Register-Guard.

If younger brother Eric thought Dad was "cool," I speculate that older brother Steve may have had even a greater sense of affiliation with the criminal father.  Psychopathy is believed to be heritable to a great degree, so it seems to me that a young, smart, and crazy boy may have decided that he would follow in Dad's footsteps, learning from his experience – but outdo him at the end and go out with a bang, having achieved vengeance.

He was a highly intelligent guy from a criminal background and worked his way up through a series of jobs, including at the IRS.  He learned enough about numbers to work as an accountant.  It is certainly worth wondering if a highly intelligent psychopath with a chip on his shoulder might have come up with some sort of criminal schemes that took advantage of knowledge gained on the inside of the tax collecting agency.

When I see someone from a criminal background buying up residential properties across the county, I wonder if there is cash from some scam being parked.  Maybe buying and selling residential properties in scattered outposts – Florida, Texas, Nevada – without renting them out turned out to be really profitable, accounting for his millions.  But why houses in two towns named Mesquite (Texas and Nevada)?  It is possible that such scattered buying and holding real estate was also a way for him to invest the proceeds from criminal enterprises.  I have noticed that friends who have achieved wealth have shown a tendency to buy multiple houses, in part as a way of keeping their wealth portfolio adequately diversified into real estate. 

And maybe he devised a way to disguise his ill gotten criminal income as gambling "winnings" when, in fact, he was actually losing money but benefiting from being able to spend the proceeds without raising an IRS red flag.

I think we have to consider the possibility that Paddock planned his elaborate massacre as a way of going out with a bang, so to speak.  Having outsmarted the law, maybe it was time to get the revenge for which he has lusted since age seven.

Not impressed with his cleverness...

Could he have decided to become a comic book super-villain, a real-life Joker?  He certainly has gone down in our national history, and for a hater, that becomes martyrdom and a form of immortality.  Twisted, but maybe comprehensible.

Bumped, 10/6/17