Leonard Gonzalez, Jr Double Motive? Was the Murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings a Robbery … a Murder for Hire Contract Hit? Or Both?
Double motives in the murders of Florida couple, Byrd and Melanie Billing?
Was the murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings a home invasion robbery or murder for hire? Florida authorities have yet to rule out that the deaths of the Billing’s couple could have been a murder for hire hit. Sheriff David Morgan responded Friday night to contract hit reports.
Leonard Gonzalez, Jr … Robbery or Contract Murder?
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office previously had refused to address whether the home-invasion shootings of Byrd and Melanie Billings may have been murders-for-hire. The couple, known for adopting special needs children, were found dead July 9.
It has been nearly one month since the double murders of the Florida couple, Byrd and Melanie Billings. The two were found dead in their Beulah, FL home on July 9, 2009 believed to be the victims of a home invasion. It was not long before there were arrests made in the double homicide.
First, 56 year old Leonard Gonzalez, Sr. was taken into custody and arrested for tampering with evidence. Then, the Escambia County, Florida Sheriff’s Office announced two more arrests; that of Leonard Gonzalez, Jr. and Wayne Thomas Coldiron. The arrest head count in the double murder case then came to seven as Gary Lamont Sumner, Fredrick Lee Thornton, Donald Ray Stallworth, and an unidentified juvenile were taken into custody. Then finally, Pamela Long was arrested as an accessory after the fact.
According to unidentified sources, there were double motives for the crime: robbery and contract killings. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan would neither confirm nor deny at a Friday night news conference whether the report was accurate.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office had said it believed robbery was the prime motive, but that it would explore all avenues.
“It’s always a possibility,” he said. Morgan had initially said robbery was believed to be the main motive.
According to CNN, a source said the state attorney’s office is working under the belief that most of the suspects in the case thought they were there for a robbery. However, ring leader and organizer of the crime Leonard Gonzalez Jr. was working with another, yet-unnamed suspects, plotting a hit on the couple. Authorities have neither confirmed, nor denied these reports.
“We are, in fact, looking at this,” Morgan said. “We want to ensure the citizens of Escambia County that we are not in any way, shape or form of the imagination taking that possibility or probability off the table in the conduct of the Billings murder.”
Morgan said that early in the investigation, investigators had “uncorroborated information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that this was an avenue of the investigation that we should in fact pursue.” He added, “We have and will continue to do that very thing.”
However, Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins is denying a report that the double murders might have been a contract hit.