Byrd and Melanie Billings were found shot to death Thursday night in their bedroom of their home in Beulah, FL, just west of Pensacola near the Alabama border. Eight of the children were home at the time, aged 8 to 14.
Fortunately for investigators, and unfortunately for the culprits, the house had an extensive surveillance system that captured the break-in, including a red van. Tips led police to the van on Saturday. The suspects were arrested on Sunday, and are to appear in court on Monday.
Wayne Coldiron, 41, and Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr., 35, were arrested. Earlier on Sunday, authorities arrested Gonzalez's father, Leonard P. Gonzalez Sr., 56, with evidence tampering. The red van was widely publicized, and he attempted to paint over and hide damage on it.
Police believe the men intended to burglarize the house. Byrd and Melanie Billings were wealthy, and had built a nine-bedroom home designed especially for their developmentally-disabled children.
In a 2005 story the couple said they wanted to share their wealth with children in need, but that they did not imagine their family would grow so large. Melanie Billings said:
“It just happened. I just wanted to give them a better life.”