Eighth person arrested in Florida couple’s shooting deaths



Authorities are charging an eighth person in connection with the slaying of a couple who adopted special-needs children, an official said Wednesday night.

Pamela Long Wiggins will be charged with accessory after the fact of felony murder, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. Morgan did not provide further identification on Wiggins and did not say how she is related to the shooting deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings last week. Wiggins — whom Morgan had previously identified as Pamela Laverne Long — was located earlier Wednesday in Orange Beach, Alabama. Morgan said Wiggins had rented property to Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., one of the suspects, but also described her as a “family friend” to Gonzalez. Watch sheriff describe crimes » The Billingses were fatally shot July 9 in their Beulah, Florida, home, near the Alabama state line. Law enforcement officials said a safe and other items were missing from the house and have cited robbery as a motive. Seven males — one of them a 16-year-old — are in custody and will face murder charges in the killings. Morgan said the seven suspects entered the Billingses’ home. Watch officials express relief at arrests » The Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed Wednesday that it is assisting in the investigation. “Escambia County sheriff’s department did call for our assistance this week,” David Melenkevitz, spokesman for the DEA in Miami, Florida, said.

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According to a copy of Wiggins’s marriage record, an “L. Patrick Gonzalez” was a witness at her marriage ceremony last year. “She’s been observed transporting his wife and children at times,” Morgan said. “We know that she was associated with Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. until the day of the murders.” Authorities also are seeking a person who was “associated” with the security and video surveillance system at the Billingses’ compound, Morgan said. He did not elaborate but said authorities had “several identities” and believed they had narrowed it to one person, whom he did not identify. The sheriff said the security system, which was not disabled, was a “gaping hole” in what was otherwise a well-executed crime. Watch experts describe the “military-style” attack » “The execution was basically flawless,” and authorities believe the suspects “entered the compound with the belief that they were not under surveillance,” Morgan said earlier Wednesday. He said the security system could be accessed remotely. Asked whether the person authorities were seeking was employed by a company that managed the surveillance system, he said no. Watch surveillance video of the home invasion » The Billingses at one time had 13 adopted children, many with special needs. Three of those children died over the years. The couple also each had two biological children of their own, but no biological children together.

Nine of the couple’s children were home at the time of the incident, Morgan said Tuesday, and police believe three of them saw the intruders. One managed to flee the home and seek help at a neighbor’s house, the sheriff said. Authorities have said the break-in was well-rehearsed and that at least two of the suspects had military training. Morgan said the men were on the Billingses’ property for 10 minutes and were in and out of the house in four.

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