Arrest Made in the Double Murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings … Tampering with Evidence … More Arrests Expected


According to WKRG, there has been an arrest made in the double homicide of  Byrd and Melanie Billings. According to the Escambia County, Florida Sheriff’s Office, 56-year old Leonard Gonzalez was taken into custody as is being charged with tampering with evidence. Leonard Gonzalez Sr. is accused of trying to paint over and hide damage on a red van.

The Billings’ were murdered Thursday in their Beulah, FL home in what is initially being reported as a home invasion


 Byrd and Melanie Billings

He is being charged with tampering with evidence related to a murder investigation. Sheriff David Morgan says Gonzalez changed the appearance of the van believed to be used in the murders and is one of the two men brought in for questioning Saturday. Sheriff Morgan did not release any information involving the motive of those responsible for the murders. Morgan says the investigation into the murders is getting more complex and, in his words, “reads like a movie script.”

The big break in the case came this weekend when a tip lead them to the van captured in surveillance video leaving the Billings residence.

Investigators got a big break in the case this weekend when tips led them to a 15 passenger van believed to be linked to the murders. The van was found at a home on Palm Court.

The discovery led to an arrest Sunday.

According to Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan at the press conference, more arrests are expected.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference Sunday that he expects more arrests, but did not provide additional details.

“At this time we are looking at multiple persons of interest,” he said. “We are very anxious to share this story … it’s going to be a humdinger, I’ll tell you that.”

Gonzalez is not charged with killing the couple, but tampering with evidence instead

Instead, he is charged with trying to alter the appearance of the red Dodge van that surveillance cameras spotted leaving the Billings home in Beulah, west of Pensacola, on Thursday night.

Gonzalez “was covering damage and painting the van … so that it would not be readily recognizable,” Morgan said. Investigators had distributed pictures and images of the van, and its discovery Saturday was “the linchpin in this case,” Morgan said.

Gonzalez was one of two people picked up for questioning Saturday night. Neither Morgan nor the local prosecutor, State Attorney Bill Eddins, would characterize his cooperation with investigators.

If you liked this post, you may also like these:

  • One, Two, Now Three Arrests Made in the Murders of Florida Couple, Byrd and Melanie Billings
  • Leonard Gonzalez, Jr Double Motive? Was the Murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings a Robbery … a Murder for Hire Contract Hit? Or Both?
  • Byrd and Melanie Billings Funeral: Couple Laid to Rest as Double Murder Investigation Continues … Rest in Peace
  • Surveillance Video Captures Moments Before the Murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings in Bulah, FL
  • Gary Lamont Sumner, Fourth Arrest Made in Double Murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings … 3 Persons of Interest Still Sought by Police

  • Comments

    5 Responses to “Arrest Made in the Double Murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings … Tampering with Evidence … More Arrests Expected”

    1. A Texas Grandfather on July 12th, 2009 9:02 pm

      Good work by LE for quickly finding the van and at least one link to the murders. I would be willing to bet that at least one of these perps (if not all three) turns out to be an illegal alien.
      These people were apparently kind people who cared about children by giving them a good home. When they get all three of the perps, I hope the Criminal justice system in florida moves swiftly to bring them to trial.

    2. Kilo on July 13th, 2009 5:46 am

      “I would be willing to bet that at least one of these perps (if not all three) turns out to be an illegal alien.”

      Nimrod, that’s the entire point of the coverage.
      SM: I hardly think that is the entire point of the coverage. The fact that two decent people who made it their mission in life to adopt and help special needs children are senselessly murdered is the point of our coverage.

      Evil exists! Be always vigilant and aware. That’s the point.

      If some turn out to be illegals, that’s just another facet of this horrible story.

    3. JustaMom on July 13th, 2009 10:04 am

      The crime rate is only going to continue to rise as unemployment does. This is why I feel every family should have a firearm and training on how to use it. Sickos like these men don’t care about your family and will not think twice to murder your loved ones for $5. Sad, but true!!

    4. pelican on July 14th, 2009 1:35 pm

      Unemployment and illegals, what does that have to do with any of it? Oh well there is that gonzalles name. Patrick Gonzalles is a white guy, who trained kids to defend themselves against preditors, appeared to be a decent guy. Hec he was our salesman who sold us our car at the dealership. This case is gonna turn into something WAY more than some innocent parents getting shot in their home, and Mr Billings very likely is not a saint. There is gonna be Much more to this story.

    5. Pamela Long, Eighth Suspect Arrested in the Double Murders of Florida Couple Byrd and Melanie Billings | Scared Monkeys on July 15th, 2009 11:56 pm

      [...] It would appear that accomplice assigned to turn off surveillance cameras before the deadly, home invasion break-in at the Billings’ residence never did. However, those previously arrested suspects that entered [...]

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