The adult daughter of a murdered Florida couple who had adopted 12 special-needs children fought back tears as she tried in vain to make sense of the tragedy that played out in the Florida Panhandle town of Beulah.
“We’re still in shock. We just want everyone to know that they were great people, and this is not something that should have happened to people who were so giving,” Melanie Billings’ biological daughter Ashley Markham told TODAY’s Ann Curry Monday.
Melanie and Byrd Billings were shot “with military precision” in their nine-bedroom home Thursday night while eight of their children ages 8 to 14 slept in their rooms. Surveillance tapes from the home showed three armed men entering the building.
Aided by tips from the public, three men had been arrested by Sunday night. Two were charged with murder. The third is the father of one of the alleged killers who, police say, drove a 16-passenger red van used as a getaway vehicle.
‘Like a movie script’
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told reporters that the motive was robbery; the Billings owned a number of area businesses and were known to be wealthy. But, the sheriff added, there are additional issues that, when revealed, will read “like a movie script.”