Byrd, 66, and Melanie, 43, Billings of Pensacola, FL.had 17 kids, 13 of them adopted. Three of their children have died - not sure if they were adopted, some of which reportedly has autism and Downs syndrome.
Byrd's love for adopting children began while he was married to his second wife, Cindy Reeve.
That love for obtaining children didn't always care about doing so legally, apparently. In 1989 he served two years probation for violation of adoption, committing fraud to obtain a birth certificate, and forgery of a birth certificate regarding the adoption of a boy named Justin.
Note how...hmmm...stiff are the penalties for forging one's life's history and identity!
Within a couple of years, however, Byrd "Bud" Billings - a former strip club owner-turned used car dealer - and his third wife, Melanie, were able to arrange to adopt Justin legally.
Court records show that 20 years ago a debt-ridden and pregnant Pensacola woman named Vickie Taylor checked into Sacred Heart Hospital under the name Cindy Reeve. She delivered a baby boy June 4 and listed the father's name as Byrd Billings. Taylor told deputies she had agreed to the fraud in exchange for a $2,100 loan, so the Billingses could claim the baby as their own.
Sheriff's deputies learned of the plot when someone with knowledge of it called authorities, the documents say. A deputy found the baby, named Justin, when he went to interview Reeve and Billings. All three pleaded nolo contendere, which means they did not admit guilt but agreed to a punishment.
Now fast forward. Byrd and Melanie Billings have been killed in what police believe to be a home invasion by masked men who removed a safe and guns from the house. Eight people were arrested — including a teenager, an Air Force Sergeant and an antique mall owner — there remain almost as many questions as answers and the safe was alleged to contain papers such as adoption finalizations and birth certificates. The safe was reportedly found in the backyard of one of the suspects.
This is a case to follow as police round up the likely suspects. Could it have been someone who knew there was a safe and guns in the house? Could it have been an "inside job" by one of the children they so "lovingly" took and cared for as their own...through broken marriages, a home that was as crowded as a group home, and some who may have bee ill-begotten?
A very unlikely setting for a reunion
And, yes...there's more to this sad story. The report above about the illegal adoption later (shutter) allowed to be legalized negelcted to include the fact that the mother, Vickie Taylor, who desperately allowed the illegal adoption - already had four children.
One of those four children, Regina Spence, 21, and just a year older than Justin was also subsequently adopted with her three other siblings. Their adoptive parents knew of Justin and told them, even sharing news clippings of adoption fraud case.
Regina Spence met and hugged her long lost brother for the first time at the fineral for Byrd and Melanie Billings. They hope to continue a relationship.