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July 15th, 2009
08:55 PM ET

Evening Buzz: New details in Florida couple murder

Byrd and Melanie Billings did not have any children together, but they cared for 16 children over the years.

Byrd and Melanie Billings did not have any children together, but they cared for 16 children over the years.

Charly Feldman
AC360° Intern

Tonight we’re following the latest in the double-murder of Melanie and Byrd Billings, a Florida couple known in their community for adopting special-needs children. The Billings were shot to death in their nine-bedroom home last week. The investigation has been heating up, with seven suspects arrested over the last several days. Today we learned the DEA has joined the investigation. We also learned authorities were looking for a person of interest who rented property to one of the suspects in custody. Now they’ve found her. Do her connections to that suspect run even deeper than real estate deals? Escambia Country Sheriff David Morgan will join us tonight to discuss these new developments.

We’re also taking a closer look at the alleged ringleader, Leonard Patrick Gonzales Jr. Before his arrest, he led something of a double-life. He was known in the area for teaching self-defense classes for children and women. But police say he has an extensive criminal history as well. David Mattingly is digging deeper.

Also tonight–newly released footage of Michael Jackson that some say holds the key to understanding Jackson’s alleged abuse of prescription drugs. The 1984 video shows his hair catching fire during the filming of an ad campaign. We’ve all heard about the famous Pepsi commercial, but you have to see it to believe it. Stuart Backerman, a former publicist for Jackson, says the burns Jackson suffered changed his life forever, triggering his spiral into drug dependence. We’ll talk to Backerman tonight.

Plus, new developments in a story we broke a couple of months ago. In Texas, cops can legally spend money seized from criminal suspects. But is it okay for a district attorney to spend more than a million dollars of so-called forfeitures to pay his favorite secretaries? Or is that crossing the line and abusing public funds? Gary Tuchman reports tonight on an audit that’s raising new questions.

We’re also working on some other stories. Michael Ware files from Iraq, where renewed attacks on Christians are taking a heavy toll. And Joe Johns is tracking First Lady Michelle Obama’s fascinating genealogy, from a rice plantation to the White House.

Join us at 10 p.m. eastern for these stories and much more!


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Michael Jackson • The Buzz
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. mahmoud mohamed

    obama's pressure on kenya not enough. kenyan leaders are ready for anything if not war.bring these hypocrites to HAGUE

    July 15, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  2. Stephanie

    There are so many people being interviewed etc. why have we not heard anything from the wife of who the Sherriff considers to be the mastermind behind this?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  3. billy

    Did the security monitor the entrance if so why didn't it warn them?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    I've never seen the footage where Michael's hair caught on fire; that ought to be interesting. And Gary's report on the money in Texas should be a good story too – those plus the one on the couple that was killed in Florida are some I think I will enjoy...and hopefully Anderson will show us more of his interview footage? It has been fascinating so far.

    July 15, 2009 at 9:07 pm |