Wealthy Woman in Helped Transport Safe, Guns After Murders

Billings safeABC News/AP Photo
Billings safe

The safe stolen from the home of a murdered Florida couple was recovered from the back yard of a home belonging to wealthy Florida realtor Pamela Long Wiggins, said Hugh Wiggins, a man who identified himself as her husband, according to police reports.

Pamela Wiggins also owns the red van that was used to transport both the safe and the weapons used during the deadly crime, the report said. She was riding in the van while the guns were being transported following the robbery and "had knowledge" they had been used in the murders, one cooperating suspect said in the police report.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan would not confirm or deny if Wiggins knew the suspects planned to use her van or home before the operation or had any involvement in hiding the safe.

Wiggins was a person of interest in the case after police found she was "associated" with one of the suspects up to the day of the murders. After police questioned her, Wiggins was charged with accessory after the fact of a felony murder and was released after she posted $10,000 bail. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, state attorney Bill Eddins said.


Morgan, referring to Wiggins' release on $10,000 bail, said she is "absolutely" not a threat to society.

Police are still searching for "two or three people" for questioning, Morgan told ABCNews.com. Morgan said it's likely one of them was supposed to disable the Billings' sophisticated security system the day of the murders, but failed to do so.

Wiggins, 47, was the eighth person arrested in the crime that shocked the nation because the couple had become well known for adopting children with special needs. She was found on her yacht, The Classy Lady, in Alabama on Wednesday. She also owns a dozen properties in three states and a Rolls Royce. The safe was found at one of several properties Wiggins owns in the Pensacola area.

Several weapons have been recovered, Eddins said, including the probable "murder weapon or weapons." It was not immediately clear from where investigators recovered the weapons. The safe that was stolen from the Billings' home was also recovered and opened, but police have not released its contents.

While they did not rule out the development of further motives, Morgan said robbery was the "basic premise."

"I think it is as simple as that as far as the motive and what occurred," Eddins said.

Morgan speculated that murder may not have been the alleged robbers' original intention, likening the double murder to a drug deal gone bad.

"There was never any mayhem or murder in the intent there" until something went wrong, he said. "It's hard to say unless you're in the psyche of the criminal."

Morgan confirmed reports that the Drug Enforcement Agency was helping in the investigation, but he refused to spell out their role other than to say the DEA was investigating the suspects.

Who is Pamela Long Wiggins?

Jimmy Malden Jr., another man besides Hugh Wiggins who claims that he is married to Pamela Long Wiggins, told "Good Morning America" today that his wife liked to brag about her wealth.

"She likes to boast a lot about her position in society," said Malden, who has been trying to divorce Wiggins for years.

But she also bragged about her less savory ties.

"She knew some people, good fellas, henchmen, she once told me about," Malden told "GMA."

Morgan said that Wiggins has several aliases, including Pamela Wiggins, Pamela Malden, Pamela Long and Pamela Laverne Long Coco.

The sheriff said Wiggins was a real estate agent. She returned to Florida Wednesday with a police escort for questioning, hours after police held up her photo in a nationally televised news conference and named her a person of interest in the case.

According to public records consistent with information provided by Morgan, Wiggins was charged with felony grand theft in 1988. That charge was dropped to a misdemeanor, to which she pleaded guilty.

Morgan said Wiggins is a "family friend" and landlord to Leonard Gonzalez Jr., who police called a "pivotal" player in the July 9 double murder.

"We know she was associated with [Gonzalez Jr.] up until the day of the murders," Morgan said.

While police continue to investigate Wiggins' alleged involvement in the case, officials are also looking into a possible link between the seven-man crew charged with killing the Billings and Mexican drug runners and the notoriously violent gang MS-13, according to federal law enforcement sources.

With eight people in custody, police are searching for at least one more person of interest, who they believe may have failed to disable the sophisticated surveillance system at the Billings' home.

"Obviously, there was supposed to be an eight or ninth person" that was supposed to take care of the surveillance, Morgan said. "To the best of my knowledge [the person of interest] was not in the home" during the murders.

15 Children Left Without Their Parents

The deaths of the Billings couple shocked the country because they had dedicated their lives to caring for disabled children. They had four children of their own but adopted 13 others, including children with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Two children died.

On Wednesday, the Billings' oldest daughter said she is shocked at the brutal killings that left her and her14 siblings parentless.

"I just can't believe that there's people in the world who are capable of this type of hate," Ashley Markham, 26, told ABC's "Good Morning America" today. "This is just unimaginable."

Markham's parents, Byrd and Melanie Billings, were shot to death July 9 in what police have called a well-organized, military style operation in which robbery was the primary motive. A safe was among the items taken from the home.

Two of the seven suspects charged with murder, 35-year-old Leonard Gonzalez Jr., and 28-year-old Donnie Ray Stallworth, had military training, police say. Stallworth worked in the Air Force's elite Special Operations Command with an aircraft maintenance squadron and Gonzalez was a former soldier in the National Guard,The Associated Press reported.

Several of the suspects, including Gonzalez, have criminal records. Wayne Coldiron, 41, served two years in a Tennessee prison in the early 1990s after killing a man during a fight.

Gonzalez stood before a Florida judge Tuesday and defended himself, saying there was "no hard evidence that links [him] to the scene of the crime July 9."

But Gonzalez's former sister-in-law Jennifer Herkel feared his violent side and said he threatened her family over the Internet. "If he would have gotten away with this crime, my family would have been the next one you would be reading about shot in the house," she said.

The Billings were parents to 17 children, 13 adopted and four biological. Two children have died. Nine of them were at home when police say the murders took place.

Two Teens Last Major Suspects Taken Into Custody

At a press conference Tuesday, Markham stood with Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan when he announced investigators had taken all the major suspects into custody, including a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old.

There were "no direct ties" between the alleged murderers and the slain couple, but at least some of the individuals arrested had been on the Billings' property in the past, said Morgan.

One of the suspects, Leonard P. Gonzalez Sr., 56, owned a pressure-washing business and had hired three of the suspects as day laborers as he needed them, according to Morgan. Gonzalez Sr. is believed to have been the group's getaway driver, according to Morgan.

The four other suspects, including the 16-year-old, had worked at an auto detailing business in nearby Okaloosa County.

Coldiron had been on the Billings' property "at least one time," said Morgan.

It was not immediately clear what type of work Coldiron had performed for Byrd, 66, and Melanie, 43, Billings.

All seven will likely be charged with an open count of murder, and the juvenile will be treated as an adult, said Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins.

A memorial for the Billings will be held Friday morning, with a burial to follow.