Legal news for Florida criminal law attorneys.

Escambia County parents of 16 children found brutally murdered in their home.

Pensacola, FL–A Florida couple known for their generosity in adopting children with special needs and trouble backgrounds were found brutally murdered inside their Beulah, Florida home on July 9, 2009. The couple was reportedly shot during a home invasion/robbery just before 8 p.m., as reported by the WKRG.

The couple, identified as Byrd and Melissa Billings who were raising 16 children, 12 of them adopted, were murdered in their bedroom while eight of the children, ages 8-14, slept in the living room. It is unknown where the other eight children were at the time of the shooting. According to Escambia Sheriff’s Department, one of the children heard the gunshots and promptly called a family friend for help. Sheriff’s deputies stated one of the parents was found with a bullet wound to the head. None of the children were reportedly hurt during the robbery/murder. The now parentless children are under the care of family members.

Escambia County detectives say three white males were caught on the family’s security surveillance system driving a 1970’s or early 1980’s model van. CBS news reported, police now have custody of three men; two have been held on murder charges and the third is being held for allegedly tampering with evidence. Police officials arrested Leonard P. Gonzales Jr., 35, in Santa Rosa County and Wayne Coldiron, 41, who reportedly turned himself into Escambia police officials for suspicions of involvement in the cold-blooded murder. The father of Gonzales Jr., Leonard P. Gonzales Sr., 56, was also been taken into custody for allegedly tampering with evidence. Gonzales Sr. reportedly tried to paint over and cover up damage on the red van that was seen leaving the Billings home. Police believe the men did not know their victims.

The Billings were a wealthy well-respected couple in Beulah, and were widely known for their devotion to children with autism, Down’s Syndrome, and other various developmental disabilities. In a story with the Pensacola News Journal, the Billings home was fully designed to accommodate their children and their special needs. A camera was equipped in every room, fully gated swimming pool, and a large driveway was constructed to keep the playing kids from running into the street. Their dream was to share their wealth with children in need.

Legal news reports for Florida criminal law attorneys.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: