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.
Billings' background also includes a strange criminal case. In 1990, he and his second wife, Cindy Reeve, pleaded nolo contendere -- which means they did not admit guilt but agreed to a punishment -- to charges they doctored birth records and tried to obtain a newborn for $2,100. They both received two years probation, which was later amended to a year.
When reached by The Associated Press, Reeve said she wanted to be left alone and the adoption "got blowed out of proportion." However, she said Billings "always dealt with shady characters."
At the time of their divorce, the documents show, Billings worked as a consultant for Back Seat Inc., a holding company for a topless bar, which opened in 1990 and no longer exists. Arety Kapatanis, owner of the Pensacola strip club Arety's Angels, said Billings turned her life around after hiring her there as a waitress.
"Bud Billings was a man of integrity. He was generous," Kapatanis said. "He ran his business in the most professional manner. It could have been a shoe store or a bakery. I mean, this type of business tends to get a really bad rap. People expect shady dealings and they expect all kind of things like that. There was never any of that with Bud."
Billings later opened a used car lot, which, according to state business records, was registered to Melanie and her daughter, Ashley Markham. The business runs on a worn-out slab, surrounded by pawn shops and bail bond companies.
During the funeral service, Ed Brock, Melanie Billings' brother, praised the couple's selflessness and kindness exemplified by their adoption of 13 children with mental and physical disabilities.
"Their lives centered around children, their family and each other," said Brock. "They loved deeply and unconditionally. They embraced the complexity of raising children with special needs, and they were their advocates. They gave these children a joyous childhood and a much needed voice."
Though seven men and one woman have been arrested and charged in connection to the murders, investigators are searching for "one more individual" who they believe was supposed to disable the Billings' sophisticated security system.
Pamela Wiggins, a wealthy Florida realtor, is the woman once held in connection to the case on charges of accessory after the fact for allegedly helping to hide the safe that was stolen as well as the transporting of guns used in the robbery. She was released in July on bond.
Wiggins' husband, Hugh Wiggins, first said that the stolen safe was hidden in the back yard of one of her homes, according to police reports.
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.
Last month, 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.