Murdered Fla. Couple's Daughter Will Care for 13 Siblings

The adult daughter of Byrd and Melanie Billings said she will move to the home where her parents were brutally murdered July 9 to take care of her 13 younger siblings, according to reports in the Pensacola News Journal.

Ashley Markham, 26, said that it was her mother's wish for her to care of the children. Markham also defended her parents whose lives and histories had come under national media attention following the murders.

"My dad is a very smart businessman. My dad worked from 6 in the morning to 8 at night Monday through Saturday," Markham said.

Byrd and Melanie Billings were killed in their Florida home on July 9, apparently for their safe, which contained only children's medication, family documents and some jewelry.

Byrd Billings was a 66-year-old entrepreneur who dabbled in used cars, boats and the adult industry before finally hitting it big. Melanie Billings was a 43-year-old country music lover who fed the homeless and was devoted to her MySpace page.

Together, they adopted 13 children with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities, and lived in a sprawling home west of Pensacola.

On Saturday, the Billings children returned to the family home for the first time since the murders.

Markham said "there were 20 family friends" at the house cleaning, which now has a security gate, new locks, new doors and new carpeting.

Police believe the murders were part of an elaborate robbery scheme to obtain the Billings' family safe, which contained only children's medication, family documents and some jewelry.

In a news conference late Friday, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan confirmed the contents of the safe and said that police found the microwave oven-size vault buried in the backyard of a home owned by wealthy Florida real estate Pamela Wiggins. The burial location of the safe was concealed by some bricks. Morgan declined to put a value in the safe's contents.

Police have repeatedly said that robbery was the prime motive for the deadly crime that was executed with "military precision."

In recent weeks, details have emerged about the lives of the Billings, who were buried Friday.

Interviews and court records obtained by The Associated Press also portray Byrd Billings as a former strip club owner-turned-used car dealer who was once sentenced to probation for an adoption scam. He frequently crossed paths with "shady characters," according to an ex-wife, but police have offered no evidence linking his past to the murders of Billings and his wife.

Known around Pensacola as "Bud," Byrd Billings spent his early years in Mississippi and Tennessee.

He owned a car dealership in Mississippi in the 1980s, and incorporated a boat company in 1976. The corporation was dissolved in the 1980s. In divorce records from the dissolution of his second marriage, in 1993, Billings reported having a net worth of just $1,400, including total cash assets of $100 and a net monthly income of $1,190. Four months after the divorce, Melanie became his third wife.

At the time of their death, they were living in a $700,000 home -- opulent by Pensacola standards -- and associates say they employed several people to care for the children. But how they got there from such a humble beginning to their marriage is unclear, the AP reported.

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