Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Mansion Murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings

The Motive

Initially, police believed that the invasion was a robbery gone awry. It was believed that suspects thought the Billings kept money in a safe. Though the safe taken was recovered from Wiggins' backyard, it didn't contain any money, just adoption papers, heirloom jewelry, prescription medications. It was theorized that another safe might have existed and contained money.

Lonnie Smith, a friend of Gonzalez Jr., told investigators that Gonzalez had approached him three weeks before the murders and had asked him to participate in a "security job." He said that Gonzalez had told him about a safe, telling the WKGR News Channel 5 station that Gonzalez had said he thought a "couple million dollars" was in the safe.

Police later learned that there was indeed a second safe in the home, one the suspects didn't find or didn't know existed. However, the second safe didn't contain millions and millions of dollars: it held $164,000, legal documents, a sealed hard drive, and antique jewelry. Not exactly the kind of loot the suspects seemed to expect. The robbery was looking less like the work of James Bond and more like that of Inspector Clouseau.

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