A reader from the Pensacola, Florida area has led me to an jail interview between Leonard Patrick Poff Gonzalez, Jr. and Chief Deputy Bill Chavers, the day Gonzalez was arrested, and after he was Mirandized. This investigative report has Gonzalez telling this deputies that certain people within the local auto industry asked him to “whack Bud Billings,” and there is more just as startling. See Update 10-25-09 below.
On July 22, 2009, Chief Deputy Chavers met with Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. inside the Santa Rosa County Jail. Chavers has known Patrick as Patrick Poff since the 1980’s when he took karate classes with him. Gonzalez agreed to talk to Chavers, as as mentioned earlier, he was properly Mirandized, signed, dated and timed, and he waived his rights to allow the discussion with Chavers.
Gonzalez asked the Deputy why he had been arrested and it was explained that it was in connection with the murders of Byrd “Bud” and Melanie Billings. Gonzalez asked if it was because of his red van, and said “if it is you can ask me anything.” He went into quite an explanation of how he had no idea who had been driving the van. He talked about the van being at the home of his father, Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Sr., how the van disappeared, how his father often drank himself into a stupor and passed out.
There’s more to this, but it isn’t especially pertinent at this point. The bottom line is, Patrick denied any involvement with the van and the murders, but he said he later saw his Dad cleaning out the van and he “saw some things,” but he refused to identify the “things.”
Gonzales told Chavers that numerous people had access to the van keys, or knew where they were kept, and he suggestion one of these might have taken the van then returned it after the crime.
Among those were:
1) Justin Billings, the son of Bud Billings, who Gonzalez thought held a grudge against him. He said they both worked together at a car lot and had “done jobs together” for other dealers when the dealers had problems. Chavers wrote the following in the report:
(Pat’s tone of voice and demeanor indicated that he and Justin Billings were used as heavies to get payments from those who were behind.)
2) Henry Cab Tice who he though was upset at him for the wrong reasons, but Gonzalez thought they had worked out the problems.
After these two, Patrick said there were probably others and indicated he wouldn’t put it past any of them to set his up. Then he changed the subject and wouldn’t talk about it.
Then Gonzalez said this to Chavers:
“I can prove I haven’t been driving the van recently and I can prove I’m not guilty of anything…if this is about the killings, I didn’t do it; I can prove I didn’t do it, but I may know some people who may have done this, but it wasn’t me Mr. Chavers. This is real deep, I’ll take the heat, I’ll go to prison, I’ll even die if I have to because if this gets out my family is in danger. They are in danger now because they know I’m in jail. I don’t want anything to happen to my family!”
He gave an account of what he was doing the day the Billings were murdered and he talked about being in the company of “black male friends,” along with errands he ran, etc. – and then he said he visited Pam Long (Wiggins) about 4:30 pm that day.
Again came the comment that what he was involved in was “very deep” and said again that his family was in danger. He then said maybe he needed to talk to the Feds, and then he said he had been used in the past by several car dealers in Pensacola to handle jobs for them to…
…folks because of his past record. These are the exact words in the investigative report:
…Patrick stated he had been used in the past by several car dealers in Pensacola to handle jobs for them, to “whack” folks because of his past record.
Just to make certain this doesn’t track under your radar, this investigative report has Gonzalez saying he was asked to kill people “because of his past record.” Has he ever killed before? We don’t know, but I do know that he may have attempted to do so – “may” have. More on this later.
Gonzalez said it was over business deals with the car dealers…car dealers were unhappy with Bud Billings over business dealings and money issues…the dealers didn’t like Billings at all…meetings were held a couple of times to discuss the problems with Billings.
Cab Tice came to see Gonzalez, he said, and indicated that the group wanted Billings:
…but Gonzalez refused the job.
Gonzalez said he was not at the meetings between the dealers but he heard from Cab Tice that some names of the dealers were “Mr. Mantis, a Jerry Wood (who might be Mantis), a Phillips,” and a few others. He said most had nicknames and he was not sure about the real names.
Another investigator entered the room and took over for Chavers, but Chavers stayed in the room. Gonzalez was Mirandized again.
Gonzalez went over some of the same info and he told Investigator Baggett about the alleged meeting between some of the car dealers and their decision to “whack” Billings, and he named the dealers again, including Henry Cab Tice.
This report says that Patrick’s way of speaking changed when he began talking about the Billings murders – he “started talking in the second person…beginning his comments with “if I had done this, I would have….”
Baggett then mentioned “a particular handsign,” and Gonzalez got excited and talked about the MS13 organization.
The MS13 is the Mara Salvatruch and is usually abbreviated MS-13.
It is a violent criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles but has since spread to who knows where. The members are usually Hondurans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Guatemalans. That is my elementary synopsis of MS-13. I don’t know how Deputy Chavers and Investigator Baggett would describe them.
So it seems that Gonzalez, Jr. was excited to bring MS-13 into the Billings’ murders. The report says “Patrick was very candid and animated in his behavior,” and then indicated that another car dealer, Sanchez, was also involved and said Chavers and Bagget should look “at MS-13’s involvement in the Billings’ issue.” It appears that he was linking Sanchez and MS-13, but that is not completely clear in this report. He said MS-13 was very upset with Bud Billings and the way he had treated them. The report says:
Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. then clearly indicated that there were some MS-13 ties to the Billings situation.
At this point, Gonzalez asked to talk to his attorney and the interview ended.
Now folks, if you are not familiar with this case, you should know that six men were caught on camera inside the Billings home. It is unclear whether the video shows who pulled the trigger(s) to kill the Billings, but at least one of the men with Gonzalez has told the Sheriff that Gonzalez, Jr. was the lone shooter.
Henry Cab Tice (see link below), mentioned above, was arrested on charges of Grand Theft – owing money to Byrd “Bud” Billings. There were hints that Tice may be involved in the murders, although nothing direct, and the “Mexican Mafia” was mentioned.
Pamela Long Wiggins, mentioned above, was arrested and charged with “accessory after the fact,” in the murders. She was out on bond, then rearrested on charges of bigamy and food stamp fraud, out on bond again and today (August 17th) is back in jail with increased bond from $10,000 to $500,000. She married Hugh Wiggins in December 2008 and Patrick Gonzalez and his wife Tabatha signed the marriage certificate as witnesses. Problem is she was married to a Mr. Malden at the time.
More to come about Gonzalez and another possible attempted “whack” job against someone else in the car dealership conundrum in the Pensacola area. When Gonzalez said this is “very deep,” seems he wasn’t kidding. Remember Gonzalez’ claim that he was an expert “in criminal counter measures? More to come. There are many possible key players who have not yet been mentioned.
The above dialog from the jail interview between Patrick Gonzalez, Jr., Chief Deputy Chavers and Investigator Baggett came from numerous sources, but mainly a pdf from RicksBlog. You can also access Rick’s reporting here.
Here is how Mr. and Mrs. Billings died with 9 children inside the home at the time:
From Pensacola News Journal:
The documents released Monday reveal:
–Byrd Billings struggled against the five intruders in his home, grabbing one of them by the neck. Two suspects remained outside.
–His body, found in the master bedroom, had six bullet wounds — one in the back of each leg, two in the face and two in the back of the head. A white zip tie was on his left arm.
–Melanie Billings was shot five times — twice in the chest and three times in the face and head. Her body was found in a hallway leading out of the master bedroom.
— A child — one of the couple’s nine adopted children with special needs — said that “bad men” woke his father and told him “You’re gonna die.” He watched as his mother was “shot in her shirt.”
–While intruders drove away with a small portable safe containing only medicine and family jewelry and papers, a second green gun safe with $164,000 in $100 bills sat undisturbed in a second-floor room.
More Update from 8-17-09:
This report says that Justin Billings, the son of the Billings was interviewed the day after the murders:
In another statement released in the documents, investigators interviewed Justin Billings, Byrd and Melanie Billings’ 20 year old son. The day after his parents were killed, Justin Billings told investigators he believed his parents’ murders were contract killings, and he pointed his finger at a gang from Colorado.
“One of my friends from Colorado. He has, he has a rat that’s part of a gang,” Justin told investigators. “He said there was a hit in Florida that fit the description that I gave him.”
The mother of Justin Billings’ ex-girlfriend told detectives the 20 year old told her he paid someone $3,000 to protect her daughter, which Justin denied.
“I didn’t pay anyone,” he said.
“Then why would you say something like that,” the detective asked. “To give her closure,” Justin replied.
During the interview, investigators clearly became frustrated at one point saying “Bulls*** Justin. Justin, that’s not gonna fly.”
Justin Billings told investigators he believed the one person who would want his dad dead was Cab Tice. Tice, who Justin described as a former business partner who sold cars with his dad “down to Mexico”, was arrested August 6 and charged with stealing thousands of dollars from one of Byrd Billings’ businesses. Tice was named a person of interest, but he has not been charged in the murders.
Another Update from 8-17-09:
Gonzalez has been tied to Pamela Long Malden Wiggins’ husband Hugh:
Hugh Wiggins is Pamela Long Wiggins Husband, Patrick Poff Gonzalez Friend?
From the Sheriff’s Investigative report in an interview with Tabitha Gonzalez, dated July 20, 2009. Tabitha/Tabatha is the wife of Leonard Patrick Poff Gonzalez, Jr.:
This portion concerns Tabitha’s description of her and her husband’s relationship with Hugh and Pamela Long Wiggins – she is talking to Investigator Robert Guy and tells him they have rented from Pamela Wiggins for about a year:
Guy: How did ya’ll wind up meeting Pamela Long, tell how that relationship come about?
TG: …my husband is friends with Hugh Wiggins
Guy: …So, so Pat knew Hugh?
TG: Uh, huh
She went on to say that they “knew each other from a long time ago. Guy asks how close the couple:
TG: Well, we were friends, I mean we went to barbeques and stuff like that to their house and she would go out of town with Hugh when he went to and came back to go his things for school and we would watch her daughter and would take her to karate and make sure she was okay.”
Mrs. Gonzalez says Pamela’s daughter is 13 years old. She also says she has helped Pamela rent out properties – “she has a place on the beach and the houses and I help clean them and rent them out…I’ve painted….” She talks about the self-defense business she and her husband had…said they no longer had a studio due to the economy…said they had to borrow some money to get into the building in the beginning. She mentions a name: Steve Manatat – a student of Patrick’s.
She said Cab Tice loaned them money (Tice is now under arrest – see links below).
Guy asked: “did Pat ever talk about about Mr. Billings? She says that “Cab” introduced them, and said Billings donated $5,000 to the couple’s Project Fight Back non-profit business. She said Billings wanted to help invest in the business.
Tabitha says “Jerry Wood invested in the school.” …he was a friend…at one time a student but mainly a friend. She says she met Billing once, was never at his house. She indicated she and her husband are friends with the “Manatats.”
She talks more about Hugh Wiggins: She says “a lot of times he was in school,” but came home to work on a boat and was home for 2 weeks out of the month. She said her husband, Patrick hung out at Pam’s house.
Tabitha said Pam’s boat was in Patrick’s name because Pam was afraid it would be repossessed. She said Pam wanted Patrick to see to that her daughter was taken care of if anything happened to her. Tabitha said she did not want her name on the boat.
Tabatha indicated that she has a lot of Pam’s rental business records for the beach house on her own computer.
On the day of the murders, Guy asks her to recount her day. Patrick was known to be in a Wal-Mart with two black males that day and was seen on video with them.
Tabatha said she met her husband inside the store but did not see the two black males. Investigator Guy says Patrick is even holding one of their children, in the company of the two black males at the check-out. She continues to deny that she knew her husband has these two men with him Wal-Mart.
Guy asks her about Pamela’s son Casey…says he is about 20 years old…has a “little baby,” indicates her husband knew Casey well.
They talk about Hugh Wiggins’ cream or white van. She knew the white van. She said she has known Hugh for 1-1/2 years.
Tabatha Gonzalez says she has a prior 10-year marriage to Brandon Fausti.
“Cab” Tice reportedly told authorities that Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. was like a son to him, and then clarified that it was “like the wayward child that you always want to try to be a good influence on his life.” Patrick Gonzalez told authorities that Cab Tice asked him to “whack” Bud Billings. It gets more appalling every day.
Tice said that his Hispanic American Auto Sales business was failing and he borrowed $20,000 from an employee, who in returned borrowed money to give to Tice from the Mexican Mafia. Tice claims he was unaware the funds came from the Mafia source.
Tice owned Bud Billings thousands of dollars, borrowed through Billings’ WorldCo Financial. It seems Tice wrote “worthless” checks to Billings totaling more than $10,000 to Billings.
When Hispanic American closed, Tice said the man inferred he had gotten the money from cousins in Atlanta in the Mexican restaurant business who were “members of the Mexican mafia.”
Tice said the man told him that the mafia members “won’t kill you, but they’ll kill your family and we’ve got to get them this money.”
Also, Tice said, the employee told Byrd Billings and Tice’s ex-wife that Tice was in debt to the Mexican mafia in an effort to get those people to reinforce to Tice that he needed to pay back the money.
“Bud said, you know, ‘I can’t believe you got in such a bind you borrowed money from the Mexican mafia and you know how dangerous these people are and you know what they’ll do,’ ” Tice said.
Tice said he still owes the “employee” $1500 and he has missed two payments this month. Byrd Billings’ civil lawsuit against Tice is still pending.
NOTE: All major updates are first added to my original post on the Billings murders, and then added to other relevant articles in the case. You can access the original here.
Related and Background: