There’s very little that’s more gut-wrenching than injustice, yet it would surprise many how much of it happens under our noses. After years of closing the case of the murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings, spectators thought that justice had been served. But after uncovering many questionable details, independent investigation blog Conjuring Justice is making a compelling case that proves that the perpetrators of the crime are still at large.
On July 9, 2009 in Pensacola, Florida, a group of masked men entered Byrd and Melanie’s vast home at dusk and murdered the couple in what was thought to be a robbery case. The suspects were caught on the family’s surveillance system. Authorities moved right away to find the six people connected to the murderer, including five people who entered the home and one who drove the getaway car.
Three days after the murder, a man was arrested after leads noted that his van matched the description of the getaway vehicle in the Billings murder. The man arrested was Leonard “Lenny” Gonzalez Sr., who later shared that the car belonged to his son Leonard “Patrick” Jr. After being apprehended, the state attorney declared that Leonard Sr. had admitted to the crime. The arrest would lead to several people put behind bars including Lenny. Patrick would get the death penalty after a three-day trial.
Byrd Billings was a shady character with many questionable affairs in his life. He was well-known in the town as the previous owner of a nightclub called The Backseat, which burned down mysteriously after reports came out that the establishment was operating a brothel within its vicinity. Melanie, Byrd’s wife, was twenty years younger than him. After the nightclub incident, Byrd moved heavily into the buy-here, pay-here car lot business, which he would later leave under the management of his stepdaughter, Ashley, and her husband, James “Blue” Markham.
The Billings couple had many fostered children, who were all within the home along with some employees and house staff on the day of the murder. None of them were harmed in the incident.
After seeing the nationally publicized case, Pensacola native, Jimmie Lee Staley started looking into the case and found some questionable details that had been left out. For one, the getaway van that had linked Patrick with the murder case had multiple problems, including a busted second gear and reverse gear. Investigators had also noted that Gonzalez Sr. was flustered on the day police showed up on his door, but no one had noted that he had an array of mental disorders, including schizophrenia. Also, some witnesses who pointed to Patrick as the gunman had claimed they had seen his face when the surveillance video showed that the gunmen had their masks on the whole time. And most recently, one of the witnesses came forward, saying his testimony was false.
With all these details brought to light, and with Patrick still fighting a death sentence and Lenny now gone after passing away behind bars due to cancer, Jimmie Lee Staley continues to seek for the truth behind the Billings’ murder case. While there are more questions than answers, the Conjuring Justice blog owner hopes that people put in charge of the case will veer away from corrupt practices and see the case without bias or malintent.