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.