Ashley Markham is the biological daughter of Melanie Billings. It is unknown whether Byrd “Bud” Billings adopted Ashley, but she refers to him as “Dad.” Byrd and Melanie Billings were murdered in their home on July 9th. The Billings had 17 children, 13 of whom were adopted. See updates as available. See update 8-10-09 below. NEW – Ashley Markham on Oprah. Update 10-7-09 on Ashley’s appearance on today’s Oprah when video is available.
Ashley Markham and her husband, Blue, (pictured above) will move into her parents home with all of the children and continue the legacy that Byrd and Melanie planned for their family. The home, said be valued at $700,000.00, has 9 bedrooms and completely equipped for the care of the children, most of whom are disabled with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities.
According to Ashley, the children have been split among family and friends as all concerned try to cope with the enormity of what has happened. With the funeral now behind them, the Markham’s are preparing to move into the home where the murders happened.
The home, reportedly located in a rural setting in Beulah, Florida, has been undergoing a thorough scrubbing. The house was a crime scene and family and neighbors have been cleaning and painting. A security gate will be installed, new locks are on the property and carpeting and doors have been replaced.
When Byrd and Melanie Billings married about 18 years ago, each had two biological children. Ashley had a sister, Nikki who died in 2008 from complications of cerebral palsy. Melanie Billings reportedly adopted her first child with cerebral palsy so that Nikki would have a companion and sister much like herself.
Byrd Billings had a biological son and daughter at the time of the marriage, Michael and Melissa. A son adopted before Byrd married Melanie is believed to have committed suicide as an adult. Another adopted child is believed to have died in addition to Nikki and Byrd’s son.
The Billings adopted 13 more children, with the latest adoption within the last year. Ashley said her parents received $1,000.00 a month in goverment aid for the care of the children.
With children that are autistic, they don’t do well with change,” Ashley said. “Where else are you going to find a house that is so well equipped?
Nine children were in the Billings’ home the night of the murders, and it appears that only nine of the adopted children were still residing in the Billings’ household.
My mom and Dad! They have taught me about hard work, determination, love and most of all the importance of family. They have changed peoples lives and have provided for all us kids in every situtation! They are amazing people will hearts of GOLD. My sister Nikki, she was such a fighter. Although Nikki could not speak, she taught people about life and about love thruough her beautiful smile! She is now my guardian angel and is no longer in any pain! I miss you sweet girl!
Melanie Billings was a self-described MySpace junkie. Visit her website and see the family she was so proud of. There is no mistaking the love this family had for each other. The YouTube video below is from her webpage.
WKRG.com reports that court documents show that Byrd and Melanie Billings “took in” an adult son’s daughter, their granddaughter, in 2006. They sued him for child support in 2008, and asked for a $50,000.00 life insurance policy for the girl, who was 18-years-old at the time, with themselves as the beneficiaries.
Another arrest has been with possible links to the Billings’ murders. Henry Cab Tice owned Byrd Billings $10,000 and Billings had filed a complaint against Tice in May 2008 for grand theft.
See Henry Cab Tice is Byrd Billings Arrested Debtor: Tice Billings Mexican Mafia?
Related and Background:
Pamela Long Wiggins Bail, Billings Murders: Pamela Wiggins Multiple Marriages?
Kathryn Colbert is Billings Murder Tipster: Colbert Denied Reward
Pamela Laverne Long is Person of Interest in Byrd, Melanie Billings Murders