Crime

Seven Arrests Made in Murder of North Florida Couple

The slaying of Byrd and Melanie Billings of Beulah, Florida, was a tragedy. The couple raised 17 children, 12 of whom were adopted, many with special needs. 


The Escambia County Sheriff's Office has been moving swiftly and already has seven people in custody related to the cold-blooded crime. 

The break-in and murders were caught on an extensive video monitoring system the Billings had installed in order to keep tabs on their children. Police say three armed and masked men arrived in a red van and entered through the front door. Other accomplices entered through the back door dressed in what police describe as "ninja garb." A safe was also removed from the house. The entire crime, including the murders, took about ten minutes. 

Nine of the couple's children were home, but none was harmed. 

Police now have seven people in custody. 

Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr., age 35, and day laborer Wayne Coldiron, 41, were arrested Sunday. Gonzalez's father, Leonard Gonzalez Sr., 51, was arrested earlier in the day for tampering with evidence. Gary Lamont Sumner, 31, was arrested Monday. Three more arrests followed today: an unidentified 16-year-old boy; Frederick Lee Thorton Jr., 19; and Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28.

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Kyle Munzenrieder