Rakeem Florence is Teenager Charged in Billings Murders

Rakeem Florence is a teenager charged in the Billings’ murders on July 9th in Beulah, Florida. See 8-10-09 below.

Rakeem Florence

Rakeem Chavez (Chaney) Florence of Ft. Walton Beach, FL, is 16-years-old. He is charged with an open count of murder in the deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings, the parents of 17 children, 13 adopted and nine of whom were in the Billings home the night of the murders.

Florence is said to be connected to the murders through three men also under arrest, each with connections to Fifth Dimension Auto Detailing: Frederick Lee Thornton, Jr 19 – lived across the street from the shop, Gary Lamont Sumner 30, the shop manager and Donnie Ray Stallworth 28, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant. A business owner in the same complex, Barry Whitman, placed all three men at the auto detailing shop.

Rakeem is said to be the father of a 10-month-old baby. The baby and the mother, Rakeem’s girlfriend, may have been living at the Fifth Dimension Auto Detailing on Duval Street in Ft. Walton Beach, FL. The 16-year-old father had reportedly worked at the shop for less than two weeks when the Billings were murdered.

Fifth Dimension is owned by Billy Sumner and Gary Breedlove according to tax records. It is not known whether Billy Sumner and Gary Sumner are one and the same person. Rakeem told the police that he was armed the night of the murders. Florence is the son of Randall Florence. His mother is unnamed.

Rakeem Florence appeared before the judge today in shackles and a jail jumpsuit. Florence has been held in juvenile detention since his arrest, but Juvenile Judge Ross Goodman ruled that Florence can be charged as an adult and will be transferred to an adult jail. He is charged with an “open count of murder,” and due to his age, he will not face the death penalty. An arraignment date is set for August 28th.

Six persons have been charged with murder and said to be physically inside the home of Byrd and Melanie Billings when the couple were shot multiple times. Rakeem Florence is one of the six. A seventh person charged is believed to have been on the property, but outside of the home. The case for these seven will come before a grand jury within the next week to ten days. An eighth person is charged with being “an accessory after the fact.”

The Pensacola News Journal reports that Mr. Florence’s parents were not present at the hearing. Randall Florence, Rakeem’s father told a pnj reporter earlier:

I know, in my heart, my child does not have the type of mentality to do anything like that, knowingly,” said Rakeem Chaney Florence’s father, Randell Florence. “The hoopla about this child being a murderer and an evil person — he’s not.”

He said it would be easy for the older suspects “to manipulate a child’s mind.”“If he was there, he didn’t know what was going on until it was too late,” the father said.

Rakeem was the last of the seven to appear before a judge. He told the court today that he no longer is represented by a private attorney.

Update 8-10-09:
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 See Henry Cab Tice is Byrd Billings Arrested Debtor: Tice Billings Mexican Mafia?

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