PENSACOLA, Fla. – A wealthy Florida Panhandle couple killed in their home during a precisely executed break-in were being laid to rest Friday as investigators said they still have more people they want to talk to about the crime.
Byrd and Melanie Billings, known for adopting 13 special needs children, were shot to death and a safe was taken from their nine-bedroom home west of Pensacola last week. Six men and a teenager are charged with murder, and a woman, Pamela Long Wiggins, is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
An arrest report on Thursday said the woman's husband told investigators that the safe was hidden in her backyard in suburban Gulf Breeze. Authorities would not say where they had found the safe or what was in it.
Long Wiggins was released on $10,000 bond and has not returned numerous phone messages.
At least one of the other suspects told investigators that her red minivan had been left near the Billings home to help the suspects get away. Some suspects said the safe and guns were transferred to the minivan, which was later spotted at an antique store she owns in Gulf Breeze.
The report said information indicated Long Wiggins was in the van with the guns and knew they'd been used during the break-in.
Family and friends gathered Thursday night for a visitation for the couple at Liberty Church west of Pensacola. A funeral was set for Friday at the church.
State Attorney Bill Eddins said the case was mostly wrapped up.
"In our opinion, this was a home invasion robbery where the people stole a safe," he said. "It was as simple as that as to the motive."
But Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference with Eddins that other motives may emerge and there are still people investigators want to talk to.
"We have some people of interest that we're continuing to look at and I can tell you that those are now numerous people," Morgan said.
Surveillance cameras at the Billings home captured footage of masked men — some dressed as ninjas — slipping into front and back doors, and one of the people investigators want to talk to may have been someone who failed to carry out an assignment to disable them.
The surveillance videos led investigators to a full-size red van — not the red minivan — used as an initial getaway car and eventually to the suspects, a loosely connected group of mostly day laborers who knew each other through a power washing business and an auto detailing operation.
Morgan has said Wiggins is a friend and landlord to 35-year-old Leonard Gonzalez Jr., described as a "pivotal person" in organizing the break-in. Gonzalez, who is charged with murder, proclaimed his innocence in court Tuesday. He and the other six, including a 16-year-old male, are being held without bond on two counts of murder each.
Morgan also confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration is assisting with the investigation of the suspects, but he said the agency is not investigating the Billings family.
Nine of the couple's adopted children were home during the break-in. Three saw the intruders but were not hurt. The couple also had four children from previous marriages. The adopted children are together and staying with family members.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.