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July 15th, 2009
09:51 PM ET

Live Blog from the anchor desk 7/15/09

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.

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

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Filed under: Live Blog • T1
soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. Keith Watson

    The police in Pensacola, Florida should be commended for a great job arresting the suspects in the horrible double murder of this beloved couple. To often these terrible crimes go unsolved or take a very long time to capture the people involved. The police get a bad rape in a lot of investigations but this one has been conducted in a very professional manner.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  2. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Can't DNA testing pin down the approximate area of origin for Michelle Obama's family?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  3. Michelle D . Fonthill. Ont

    it 's interesting to learn of Michelle's ancsestors and this is what connectewd her and Barrack to together .

    July 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  4. amy

    hello all, we believe there is a military connection. If correct, didn't 3 of the suspects have a military background as well as the male victim?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  5. Stacie

    AC, I can't find Pamela Long listed as a REALTOR, has that been confirmed? I'm hoping that she is not a REALTOR but just a licensed real estate agent. As a REALTOR she would belong to an association that abides by a code of ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORs. Please check it out, she is not listed on realtor.org as a member ever.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  6. Jacqueline, NY

    All things are possible.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  7. richard johnson

    How was Machelle Oboma related to a slave owner when her other relative was a slave?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  8. Casey Jones, Palm Springs, CA

    This story about Mrs. Obama's roots is very interesting. This makes Michelle Obama's journey to the White House that much more poignant and compelling. Thank you for telling this story 360.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  9. lynne splinter

    This Billings murder has got to be more than a robbery for money, jewels, etc.! There are numerous wealthy people in Florida that would have money and valuables that would not be parents of 9 adopted special needs children. My guess is that as this story unfolds, there will appear many more twists and turns. Unbelievable!

    ____________

    Love hearing about Michelle Obama's roots. Chilling!

    July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  10. Shaun , Pensacola Fl

    Concerning the Billing's story here in Pensacola,I dont understand how this is a random robbery when the family home is approx. an hour north from Gulf Breeze which is located near Pensacola Beach. The home is not located or seen from the road. There must be some relation somewhere for this to happen and for them to know there was a safe in the home. I believe there is more to this story and look forward to the updates.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  11. Jen, Albany NY

    How terrible, that tanker explosion, were there any survivors? Pure awful

    The Florida killings are terrible, what is the matter with people, how can some people do such things? So upsetting.

    Glad to see the dog footage, that made me smile after all this bad news.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  12. Dave from San Diego

    The interview with the Sheriff in Florida demostrates how efficient our local police can and do provide a much needed professional outlook while dealing with a truly gruesome attack & murder of a giving couple. I am a proud grandfather of my special DS grand-daughter; I can't imagine what happened during this crime and the end result. The seven arrested to this point better pray for their lives.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  13. cristy kirssin

    wow this fascinating stuff, Michele Obama's family history...

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  14. Sara

    As a prosecutor, I am so impressed with the superb job the Pensacola Sheriff is doing. In addition, he gives the media really great soundbites. I think CNN should give him his own show.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  15. Maureen T, Canada

    I can't imagine living in those shacks...

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  16. Nina

    AC, Cape Coast Castle is definitely a haunting place. Did you experience the stench in those cells as well?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  17. Emil

    Hi Anderson,
    I never could understand how a person can take someone else's life
    - except in self-defense. I just don't get it.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  18. Michelle D . Fonthill. Ont

    Did they not have thier door locked or security system in place ? @ Anderson

    July 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  19. Katie D.

    I can't BELIEVE that when MJ was at the top of the steps and his head was visibly on fire, he still danced ALL the way to the bottom AND did a FULL spin before ANYONE noticed his head was on fire! Were was everyone????? Was the person filming, asleep???? Poor Michael!!

    July 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  20. Lisa A. Philadelphia, PA

    The more i read all the comments, see the interviews and piece together the information I have it seems to me that this was a "hit". I believe people can have the capacity for great compassion and evil at the same time. It may be revealed that while this couple did an amazing selfless thing taking care of these children there was something else more sinister going on and it cost them their lives. Or not.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  21. Cathy

    AC, could you explain what the sheriff meant by having all those law enforcement agencies involved in some sort of meeting??? I didn't understand what he meant about the DEA being involved in some second-hand way??

    July 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  22. Jasmine

    Plantations are true sentiments on how important family was in slave life. Incredible....

    July 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  23. Carol

    I am so distressed about these killings in my home state of Florida. It is just beyond me why these parents had to be killed. It seems clear some, if not all these people who committed the crime knew there were many children involved. This is what makes it so upsetting. They were not strangers as far as not knowing the dynamics of the family but knew there were a lot of kids. Why won't the police reveal something that was in the safe. I feel it was a lot of money but heck they would have been better off robbing a bank. There has got to be more and I can't stop thinking about it and how those kids are handling and holding up.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  24. Lori

    Slavery is an example of how we are no more than a part of the animal kingdom.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  25. Michelle D . Fonthill. Ont

    Kudos to Cnn for posting the women 's picture on the shows it brought them to her . Now justice will be served .

    July 15, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  26. Minou, New York City

    These old pictures of the slaves are very powerful!

    July 15, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  27. David, Indiana

    @Isabel, yes I agree, it infuriates me. We don't know for sure what has happened, but it's absolutely insane.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  28. Jeannette

    I believe the killings was an inside job ... someone with access and knowledge of what Mr. and Mrs. Billings had in their house had to be a part of this horrible act ... I do hope the eldest daughter can manage and receives support to care for the young kids .... Very Sad ...

    July 15, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  29. Sharon Hastings

    That sheriff is very impressive. Very articulate and professional. Go Florida law enforcement!

    July 15, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  30. Kelly - Harrisburg, PA

    Your piece walking through the castle and noting the claw and bite marks gave me chills... it must have felt very strange being there. I really appreciated Obama's comments that we need think of all sides of the story, to check ourselves and make sure we are treating people with respect. Excellent job!

    July 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  31. Arun

    Anderson: Great interview with Obama. When you were standing inside that slave compound, what were you thinking?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  32. John

    It is just crazy in the 21 Century we can still rob and kill each other for the almighty dollar.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  33. Amanda Walton Fort Erie, Ontario

    Evening Anderson and everyone, Those killings make no sense, but then again murder never does. It's very sad and scary. I've said it before and I will say it again, I don't know how journalists like yourself stay sane in such an insane world when you need to report many times on stories like this. That's what makes you all very special. Have a great night everyone... Peace to you all, Stay Safe and sweet dreams

    Amanda

    July 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  34. Michelle D . Fonthill. Ont

    I pray for the kids and they need to bring this to justice .

    July 15, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  35. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    Anderson, I feel like there is something missing in this Billings murder. There are so many people involved and they seemed to know enough about this large home to get in and out very quickly. If it was supposed to be a robbery, why murder the parents?

    There is something else going on here that the authorities are not talking about or have not yet considered.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  36. Jasmine

    the police in Florida should have said nothing about motives, and just said that they have some in mind. Now with the possibility of robbery, we're talking more speculation than fact..... :/

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  37. Patricia

    Michele Obama's ancestors hailed from Sierra Leone, the rice growing coast of West Africa. The Gullah have already traced their roots to Sierra Leone just like the occupants of the Amistad. The door of no return was on a castle built like a fort on Bunce Island at the mouth of the Sierra Leone River.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  38. Sarrah

    Hello Anderson:
    Watching your really good interview with the Escambia Co. Sheriff, the horrible thought occurred to me that this whole "practicing for a murder" might have been a rehearsal for something much bigger. Has anyone else thought of that?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  39. Mando, Laredo,TX

    Paying 3 secretaries is probably the closest thing to just outright taking the money himself. Sounds like a 4-way kickback scheme.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  40. Lori from IL

    Hope AC360 does a follow up on this trial - there has to be so much more than what the police are able to release at this time. I know we are all anxious to know the details, but with two people murdered they must be careful not to release information that will compromise their case against the suspects - I think we all want to see these murderers brought to justice......

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  41. Sabrina In Las Vegas

    Regardless of what we all feel about events that occur, God has a plan and even Joseph realized that being locked in Pharoah's prison was the set up for him saving his family from famine.

    Had Michelle's ancestors not been brought here and Barack's as well, they wouldn't have met and had those cute children or been the leader of the free world.

    Everything happens for a reason and it's all for the good....Judaism.
    We don't control what happens to us, only how we react to it....Buddhism.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  42. Michelle D . Fonthill. Ont

    What is motive ? Why did they kill them for ? It's so sad .

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  43. Debbie from ala

    I am curious how these lowlifes got n & out n 4mins.Did they let them n or did they bust the door down & steel a safe & kill them n 4mins? My prayers r w/the family. Thanks Anderson U ROCK

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  44. Penny (trinidad and tobago)

    this was a very inhumane crime. How could someone take the lives of special need children caregivers. This has to be the work of the devil. America and the world at large needs prayers. We need to refocus out priorities.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  45. Demario

    four mins and death to both parents? could this be some sort of hit and the safe was taken to make it look like a robbery? The reason I ask is because, by the way they entered the compound from both sides and with 7+ people invovled I cant see a house safe holding enough money to make it worth wild.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  46. Byron F. - Dallas, TX

    Hey Anderson

    You're aloud to make a mistake or two Anderson. We forgive you. I would like to know if the couple had reason to put the video surveillance up? Was this just general safety practices or had they been threatened or scared by something previously?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  47. Carissa

    I would have to agree with one of those comments above, why not just steal what you want and leave these wonderful people alone?

    Canada

    July 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  48. Kathy from Maryland

    @Anderson
    In an earlier CNN news coverage of the Billings case, I remember the Sheriff saying that "this case reads like a movie script". I suppose we must all wait to hear the entire plot unfold!

    July 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  49. L J

    I am pleased to see law enforcement being very deligent with the investigation. Other agencies should take note.

    July 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  50. Jon Lima, Brazil

    I'd like to know more about the parents. Why they decided to take care of so many kids? Were they wealthy, or got government money to do this?

    July 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
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