Friday, July 10, 2009

Parents of Large Adoptive Family Killed


Our Worst Nightmare...

PENSACOLA, Fla. (July 10) - Investigators asked the public to be on the lookout Friday for a red van they believe carried three men involved in the deaths of a Florida Panhandle couple who were shot in their rural home while eight of their children slept.
Surveillance cameras showed the van at the home of Byrd and Melanie Billings in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola near the Alabama border, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. The children were unharmed.

The sheriff's office released an enhanced but still grainy photograph of a red, 15-passenger van dating to the late 1970s or early '80s.
Morgan said investigators did not know who killed the wealthy couple known for adopting children with developmental disabilities, many born to drug-addicted mothers. But they said they wanted to question the three men suspected of involvement in the crime.
"It would be pure speculation. We see many random acts of violence now. We just don't know," he said.
Investigators are also awaiting autopsy results on the couple to learn more about the killings, he added.
Morgan said eight of the children, ages 8 to 14, were in the home when the couple was killed Thursday evening. A woman who lives in an outlying building and helps care for the children called emergency dispatchers from the home.
Deputies had to wake some of the children after they arrived, authorities said.
Investigators interviewed the children, who are now staying with other family members, Morgan said.
The Billings had 16 children, 12 of them adopted. They married 18 years ago and each had two children from previous marriages. The couple then began adopting children with developmental disabilities and other problems.
The couple owned several local businesses, including a fiance company and a used car dealership.
In a 2005 story in the Pensacola News Journal, the couple said they wanted to share their wealth with children in need, but didn't imagine their family would grow so large.
"It just happened," Melanie Byrd told the newspaper. "I just wanted to give them a better life."

Please pray for these children!

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