The arrests at noon, CDT are (newest listed first): (Photos and videos as available.) Updates in red text below:
Bottom L-R: Leonard Gonzalez, Sr., Gary Lamont Sumner
1) An unnamed 16-year-old arrested and charged in connection with the Billings’ murders. Now named is Rakeem Chaney Florence and is held without bond.
2) Frederick Lee Thornton, Jr., 19, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida charged with two counts of murder.
3) Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28, held on $1 million bond. His address is listed as Fort Walton Beach. Stallworth fled across state line to Alabama after the murders. Stay tuned.
4) Gary Lamont Sumner, 31, was arrested on July 13th and charged with two counts of murder. He is in the Okaloose Country jail, and he has been there since Sunday, July 12. He was originally arrested for driving with an expired drivers license. Police say Sumner is connected to the murders through “witnesses and video surveillance.”
5) Wayne Thomas Coldiron, 41, of Pensacola charged with “open” counts of murder. For detailed information on this man and prior criminal record, see this report. The latest update for Coldiron is that he has been denied bail.
6) Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr., 35, of Gulf Breeze. For detailed information on this man and his place within his community, see this report. Police have said today that Gonzalez, Jr., is the “instigator” of the crime.
7) Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Sr., 56, of Pensacola has been charged with “tampering with evidence.” Allegedly he tried to repair and repaint a red getaway van which earlier reports say he was driving at the time of the murders. His bail has been doubled from $250,000.00 to $500,000.00.
Update 7-14-09 10:30 p.m. CDT:
One suspect is at large according to police
This group of men “trained together – some for up to 30 days – to stage a military-style assault on the Billings’ home.”
According to State Attorney Bill Eddins, his office will seek first-degree murder indictment against these 7 men. Some charges will be pre-meditated murder and others will be felony murder.
Five of the suspects rushed through three doors at the Mobile Highway home about 7:30 p.m Thursday and made off with a medium-sized safe while at least two other men waited in separate getaway vehicles, law enforcement officials said.
The Billingses were shot multiple times in the bedroom of their two-story, nine-bedroom home. Nine of the couple’s children were home, and three children saw the intruders.
Three killers entered the house through two different doors in the front of the home. A sport utility vehicle was also involved along with the red van that has already been reported. Three additional men entered the home through a door on the north side. It is believed that all suspects left the home in the red van.
Update 7-16-09 11:19 a.m. CDT:
From press conference:
The safe has been found and is being processed.
Sheriff Morgan says that there are other “people of interest” being investigated that be of substance…or not, to the Billings murders. Mr. and Mrs. Billings, to the “best of” Sheriff Morgan’s “knowledge” are not being investigated by the DEA (evidently rumors are swirling about this), although the DEA is involved with someone or some thing connected to the murders.
Authorities say that they still believe some one other than those now in custody is being sought in connection with the Billings’ security system.
State Attorney Eddins says guns have been found and they believe they have the murder weapon(s).
The Sheriff believes that additional motives will be found, other than just robbery.
Byrd Billings Human Trafficking?
A suspect in the Byrd and Melanie Billings murders has reportedly told police that Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. was the sole shooter in the killings. It appears from that report that it may have been 19-year-old Frederick Thornton who gave the police the information, but it is not entirely clear that the report came from Thornton. Thornton told police that after the murders all the suspects met up at the Magnolia Antique Mall, owned by “Pam” (Pamela Wiggins). Thornton said the safe taken from the Billings home was driven in the get-away van to Wiggins’ red minivan.
Wayne Coldiron, also under arrest for the murders named “Pam” as the driver of a maroon minivan.
Frederick Thornton and Gary Sumner, also under arrest, then got into Sumner’s blue SUV and drove to Wiggins’ antique mall for the meeting.
Background and Related:
Byrd Billings Human Trafficking?