Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Mansion Murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings

A Well-Liked Family

The Billings Family
The Billings Family
The Billings family were well-known locally for their large family. Byrd and Melanie Billings were committed to the adoption and care of children with disabilities. Over the years, they had adopted 13 children (including one who later died) with various disabilities, including autism and Down Syndrome. They and their extraordinary family had been featured in numerous newspapers.

Byrd and Melanie had their first date on Christmas Eve 19 years ago, after being introduced by friends. They married shortly after. They had always discussed adoption, and when the time came, they decided to adopt a special needs child, because one of Melanie's daughters from a previous marriage, Nikki, had cerebral palsy and autism, and they wanted to adopt someone to whom she could relate. One adoption led to another and another; soon they had a houseful of children with special needs, who were watched over by full-time caretakers and the extensive surveillance system.

If the robbers-turned-murderers had read the news profiles of the couple, they would have known that the house had a camera in every room. The house was bristling with alarms and sensors. Beeps sounded whenever a door was openedprompting a caretaker to go check on the room and the child. The fully alarmed house had video cameras trained on most rooms of the house as well as the driveway. They would have learned that all footage was kept for 30 days.

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