By Calvin Palmer
Three more people were arrested today in connection with the killing of a wealthy Florida couple known for adopting special-needs children.
Melanie and Byrd Billings were shot to death on Thursday in their home near Pensacola during a precisely executed break-in.
Prosecutor Bill Eddins said the main motive was robbery and revealed for the first time that a safe was among items taken from the couple’s sprawling nine-bedroom home.
Police arrested an unidentified juvenile; Frederick Lee Thorton Jr, 19; and Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28. Stallworth was arrested in Alabama but lives in Florida.
Gary Lamont Sumner, 31, was arrested on a murder charge yesterday after he was pulled over in a traffic stop.
They join Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr, 35, and Wayne Coldiron, 41, who were arrested and charged with murder on Sunday.
Leonard P. Gonzalez Sr, 56, was also held on Sunday on a charge of evidence tampering.
Surveillance video at the house showed three armed, masked men arriving in the red van, entering through the front of the house and then returning to the vehicle.
Others dressed in “ninja garb” went in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said: We have a team that enters at the rear of the home and another that enters at the front of the home. It leads me to believe this was a very well-planned and methodical operation.”
Byrd Billings, 68, and Melanie, 43, owned several local businesses, including a finance company and a used car dealership.
They lived in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola, near the Alabama state line, in a house set deep in the woods. They had 17 children, 13 of them were adopted.
[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]