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Murdered couple's safe held papers, heirlooms

One of the Billings’ children releases a balloon containing a message during Friday’s funeral services for Byrd and Melanie Billings in Pensacola. They were killed last week.

Associated Press

One of the Billings’ children releases a balloon containing a message during Friday’s funeral services for Byrd and Melanie Billings in Pensacola. They were killed last week.

PENSACOLA — The safe taken from the home of a slain Panhandle couple held only adoption papers and other documents, heirloom jewelry and some of the family's prescription medication, according to both a spokeswoman for the family and the county sheriff.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said investigators have not yet determined whether the killers even managed to open the safe, which was found buried in a Pensacola-area back yard with bricks piled on top.

The sheriff's news conference came the afternoon after the funeral for Byrd and Melanie Billings. The couple was known for adopting 13 special-needs children.

They were shot to death in their nine-bedroom home west of Pensacola last week. Six men and a teenager are charged with murder, and a woman is charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Escambia County law enforcement said this week that robbery was a motive for the crime.

A funeral was held for the couple Friday. During a brief press conference outside the church, family spokeswoman Crystal Spencer said she announced the contents of the safe to put to rest speculation about the Billings family. She did not elaborate.

Nine of the couple's adopted children were home during the break-in. Three saw the intruders, but were not hurt.

A surveillance camera captured the break-in. The family had wired the home and the outside of the property with cameras so they could watch the children.

State Attorney Bill Eddins said Thursday 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 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.

Murdered couple's safe held papers, heirlooms 07/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 11:39pm]

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