Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Mansion Murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings

A Fast and Furious Robbery-Murder

The cameras gave the police a clear picture of the complex robbery-murder. In view of the great deal of planning and research which had clearly been devoted to the operation, police could only speculate that a person supposed to take of turning off the video system had failed to show up or had somehow forgotten.

Two cars were used in the crime. One, a large red passenger van that became one of the first publicly disclosed pieces of evidence, was captured on video. Three men rode in the red van, while four more followed in a gold Explorer.

Wayne Coldiron
Wayne Coldiron
Covering the back exits, two men, later revealed to be Wayne Coldiron and Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., were dropped behind a nearby church and ran across the backyard to the back of the house.

In the video, the men seem dressed in ninja garball black, with their faces covered by masks.

The intruders initially made good progress. They entered through an unlocked door that led to the laundry room. Meanwhile three other men entered through the front of the house while a man continued driving the SUV up and down the street, waiting.

A minute after the cars arrived, surveillance video showed Melanie Billings entering the living room from the kitchen with her dog and one of the children. Byrd follows behind her, his arms in the air, facing two men clothed in all black, and one man in street clothes. The man in street clothes points a handgun at Byrd's head. The man was later identified as Gonzalez.

The video surveillance system captured two men with the long guns and Gonzalez holding Byrd at gun point, and one of them shooting. An interview with one of the suspects identified Gonzalez as the one who shot Billings. The patriarch was first shot in the legs in the living room. Byrd fell to the ground. Then he was dragged to the bedroom, leaving a trail of blood.

The autopsy revealed that Byrd had been shot with a 9 mm handgun multiple times in the head and legs; Melanie had been shot twice in her chest, as well as her face, and her head. Byrd was found face-down; Melanie, on her back.

Horrifically, two of the nine children who were home witnessed the killings. One girl walked to the window and watched the men in black enter; she quickly got back into bed and pulled the covers over her. The other witness, Jake, was 10 and had Down Syndrome. He was mute and used sign language to speak. He signed out what he heard. He'd heard a knock on the door. He told investigators that "two bad men" said to his father: "You're going to die. One. Two. Three."

Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr.
Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr.
Another child, Adriana, ran next door to their neighbor April Spencer. Spencer had just left the Billings a few hours earlier. Adriana banged on the door at 7:30 p.m. and told Spencer what had happened. Spencer walked over and saw the grisly scene for herself; sadly, Jake was her guide, pointing her to the bedroom. She made the first 911 call.

"The Mom is dead!" yelled Spencer on the 911 call. "I live next door and the daughter came over and said the mother and father have been shot and they're dead! I've got to go get the kids! There's kids in the house!"

The men had exited with a safe, and had run toward the red van. In all, the men had been on the property for less than ten minutes. They had been in the house just under four.

In just under four minutes, the intruders had broken into the home, stolen a safe, and killed Byrd and Melanie Billings in cold blood before making their escape.

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