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Wife Turns Detective When Her Husband Is Featured As A Murder Suspect On ‘America’s Most Wanted’
Margie Danielsen learned her husband wasn't who she thought he was from an airing of "America's Most Wanted" that showed Paul Mack was the suspect in two cross-country murders.
Could love at first sight actually exist? Margie Danielsen wondered this in 1987 when she first laid eyes on a handsome stranger at a country western-themed bar in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The man identified himself as Sean Paul Lanier.
“He was very confident, very charming, and he was a gentleman,” Danielsen told “Charmed To Death,” airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.
Danielsen was 37 and a single mother, recently divorced after a 20-year-long marriage. She was excited for her first date in so many years when Lanier arrived at her doorstep with roses. While on the date, Lanier revealed that he was a chef who’d graduated from Paris' Le Cordon Bleu.
The couple had a lot in common and Lanier was affectionate and gave Danielson a lot of attention. But this became a little overwhelming for Danielsen when two months into the relationship, Lanier purchased gym memberships and athletic attire for Danielson and her three daughters.
Danielson refused the gesture but came home later to find that Lanier had broken into her house and hung the new outfits on each one of the bedroom doors belonging to her and her three daughters.
“I just froze,” Danielsen told producers. “He didn’t have a key. How did he get in?”
Lanier admitted that he entered through the bathroom window. Erring on the side of caution, Danielsen thought it best to break things off with Lanier, until one day, he slipped a note under her door with troubling news: His young daughter back in California was in a terrible accident and died. Danielsen sympathized with him, and before long, she was back in his arms. Plus, Lanier's success as a chef seemed to gain momentum when he was featured on a cooking show on TV.
It didn’t take long, however, for Danielsen to realize that Lanier had financial problems. A wedding proposal, one year after meeting at a bar, was enough to pacify her concerns.
Almost immediately after the wedding, Lanier tried to get control over Danielsen’s financial decisions. Danielsen, who once again grew suspicious of Lanier, started to snoop around her new husband’s briefcase.
“I noticed on his daughter’s death certificate the date she died was wrong,” said Danielsen. “There’s some misspelled words, and there wasn’t a state seal.”
The more and more she looked around, the more suspicious she became, but Lanier never got rattled, not even when she confronted him. He claimed he was in the witness protection program after getting involved with the mafia in New Zealand. Not even Danielson believed the lie, but she went along with it so that she could keep learning more about the man she just married.
On March 20, 1988, Danielsen’s suspicions become a reality when she received a phone call from a friend. The friend told Danielsen she’d just seen Lanier on an episode of "America’s Most Wanted."
Only his name wasn’t Sean Paul Lanier. It was Paul Steven Mack, and he was wanted for two murders in California and Ohio.
Danielson kept the discovery to herself, but she did look through his wallet. He had two social security cards. Instead of going to the police, she decided to continue investigating.
Paul Steven Mack, then using the alias "Sean Paul Lanier," was the prime suspect for the 1981 murder of 19-year-old Annette Huddle in Marion, Ohio. The recent high school graduate was a secretary at the Marion County Country Club, where she worked under Paul. Paul had even mentioned to his new wife, Margie Danielsen, that he’d worked there.
Huddle went missing on July 8, 1981 after telling her family that she had a ride home. Four days later, a family on a canoe trip discovered her partially dressed body on a riverbank just outside Marion. She’d been sexually assaulted, but the medical examiner could not determine a cause of death.
Paul cooperated with the police and said he hadn’t seen Huddle since she left work. However, coworkers said Paul had offered her a ride home and invited her to smoke marijuana at his house.
“My sister didn’t like him,” Huddle's sister, Anita Huddle Cox, told producers. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, gross! This old man at the country club is making moves on me.’”
Huddle repeatedly rebuffed Paul’s advances for three months and would even intentionally avoid him at work as much as she could. During the investigation, authorities also discovered Paul was a convicted felon. He was soon arrested for a parole violation, but after searching his home, authorities found no physical evidence tying him to Huddle's murder.
Paul was released from prison in 1985 and moved to California. In Sacramento, he met Sharon, who would become Paul Mack’s next wife. Like Margie Danielsen three years later, Sharon was a single mother who met Paul in a country western-themed bar.
“For the first time in a long time, I took a man home from the bar,” said Sharon Mack. “I found Paul to be so charming. He always knew what to say.”
Paul and Sharon married while Paul was in state prison for minor charges. One year later, Paul was released, but he quickly revealed a violent side of himself to his new wife. On one particular occasion, Paul stormed into the bedroom and began strangling Sharon on the bed. Sharon took her daughter and left Paul.
Paul then managed to stay under the radar until 1987, when 21-year-old model Karen Grace Winslett disappeared from Sacramento.
Winslett was on her way to what she believed was a photo shoot for Budweiser. She left the address of where she was going with her boyfriend. When the boyfriend went over there to look for her, he met Paul Mack, who denied ever knowing a Karen Winslett. Several hours later, Paul called the boyfriend to say he did have an appointment with Winslett but had to cancel.
Investigators interviewed Paul at his home and noticed he had no photography equipment. They also looked into his criminal background and marital history, and found he’d been married a total of seven times. Danielsen was actually his eighth wife.
WInslett was eventually found dead in her parked car at a motel. Investigators could not determine an apparent cause of death until later toxicology reports detected the painkiller Percodan in Karen’s system, more than 25 times the lethal limit.
“It was enough to probably arrest him, but I wasn’t certain we were going to get a conviction at that point,” Sacramento Detective Bob Bell told producers. “We had no way of putting her conclusively in his house on that day.”
Paul Mack fled town, and three months later, he introduced himself as Sean Paul Lanier to Margie Danielsen in Salt Lake City.
Danielsen decided to collect Paul’s fingerprints from a drinking glass and hand them over to the police. But her friend wasn't the only one who recognized him on "America's Most Wanted." Just one day after it aired, a local Marion, Ohio resident who knew Paul called authorities to say they knew where he was in Salt Lake City. She also said Paul made a guest appearance as a chef on a TV show out in Utah.
“So he had the nerve to go on television, even though he’s wanted,” said Detective Bell. “And he knows he’s wanted.”
The tip led authorities to Salt Lake City.
“There was a car parked catty-corner from my house with two men, and the next thing I know, Sean Paul is jumping out the window,” recalled Danielsen.
Police finally apprehended Paul Mack and held him in Salt Lake City until he could be extradited to Sacramento. In March 1998, Paul was charged with first-degree murder for Karen Winslett’s death and questioned about the murder of Annette Huddle. Three weeks into the trial, a jury found him guilty of Winslett's rape and murder. He was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
Citing a lack of evidence, authorities were never able to charge Paul Mack in the murder of Annette Huddle.
But during his interview with "Charmed To Death," Sgt. Tim Bailey gave producers a shocking update:
“I received a call from Paul Mack’s attorney, who represented him in California,” said Bailey. “And he told me that he wanted me, and he wanted, particularly, the family to know, that Paul Mack confessed to killing Annette Huddle before he died.”
Paul Mack died in prison in 2018. He was 75 years old.