Sunday, July 19, 2009


Mari Darr~welch / AP
Ashley Markham, 26, lower right, told a Florida newspaper that she and her husband intend to care for the children, saying it was her mother's wish.

AP / Booking photos provided by the Escambia County Sheriff show suspects in the home invasion and murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings found shot to death July 9, 2009. From top left: Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Sr., Wayne Thomas Coldiron, Gary Lamont Sumner, a juvenile whom police did not identify; Frederick Lee Thorton Jr., 19; and Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28, who was arrested in Alabama but lives in Florida.
AP / July 14: Ashley Markham, 26, daughter of Melanie Billings, is comforted by Sheriff David Morgan after his announcement of a seventh arrest in the robbery and murders of her mother and stepfather Byrd Billings. Masked suspects, some dressed as ninjas, stole a safe and other items during a deadly break-in at the sprawling Florida Panhandle home of the couple, known for adopting children with special needs.

This 2005 picture shows Byrd and Melanie Billings with their children, 10 adopted and two biological, at their home in Beulah, Fla. Melanie is holding a photograph of their late child, Bailey. In all, the couple had 17 children, 13 of them adopted. / AP

Slain couple’s daughter to care for 13 children
She says it’s what her mother wanted, plans to move into parent’s home
AP Associated Press / Sun., July 19, 2009

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The adult daughter of a slain Florida couple known for adopting 13 special needs children said she is planning to move into her parents' home and raise the children as her own. Ashley Markham, 26, told the Pensacola News Journal in Sunday's editions that she and her husband intend to care for the children, saying it was her mother's wish.

A phone message was left by The Associated Press on Sunday with her attorney, Crystal Spencer.

Markham also defended her parents, Byrd and Melanie Billings, whose lives and deaths had gained national attention since the July 9 attack.
Byrd Billings, 66, was an entrepreneur who had dabbled in used cars, boats and the adult entertainment industry. His 43-year-old wife was a country music lover who fed the homeless and was devoted to her MySpace page. They adopted 13 children with autism, Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities and lived in a sprawling home west of Pensacola.

Markham said her father was able to build a comfortable life for the family through a lifetime of hard work and planning.

"My dad is a very smart businessman. My dad worked from 6 in the morning to 8 at night Monday through Saturday," Markham said.

The two were found slain at their home in what authorities described as a well-executed invasion captured on surveillance video. Nine of the couple's children were in the home during the attack, though none were injured. Eight people have been arrested in the case, including a teenager, an Air Force Sergeant and an antique mall owner.



FairestWitness said...

Chomp, why was this seemingly wonderful couple really killed? They evidently didn't find the safe with the money in it and didn't take anything much away from the home. A documents safe.

What is really going on in this case? It's very disturbing and the killings don't make any sense.

CHOMP said...

Hi FairestWitness and thank you for dropping by. It took two very special people to make a home for these children. It's unbelievalbe what happened to them!