Byrd and Melanie Billings
Byrd "Bud" Starling Billings (b. September 23, 1942) and Melanie Anne Billings (b. September 12, 1965) were a Beulah couple known for adopting twelve special needs children. They were both murdered during a home invasion on July 9, 2009.
 Lives, career & children
Byrd had two biological children, Michael and Melissa, from his first marriage. An adopted son from that marriage, John, choked to death in 1995; police ruled his death a suicide, but Byrd was convinced it was an accident. After his divorce in 1986, Byrd adopted another son, Justin. Melanie had two daughters from her first marriage, Ashley and Nikki.
When Nikki was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism, the couple began considering adopting a child with special needs as her companion. They eventually added ten additional members to their family: Adrianna, Jacob, Matthew, Ricky, Tori, Nicholas, Katie, Bailey, Ethan and Emma. Bailey passed away in 2004.
Six of their adopted children have Down syndrome, and others had parents who were drug users or sexually abused them.
In a 2005 Pensacola News Journal profile, the couple said they didn't set out to adopt so many. "It just happened," said Byrd.
"I just wanted to give them a better life," said Melanie.
As remembered in their obituary:
|They had a deep hope to make the world a better place, one person at a time. Bud's world revolved around Melanie, everything he did was for her and the children. He worked everyday of his life to give her and their children the best life possible. Melanie's world revolved around her children. All she ever wanted to be in life was a mommy.|
 Murder & investigation
On the evening of July 9, 2009, three attackers entered the Billingses' home from multiple doors. Nine of their children were at home at the time, three of whom encountered the attackers, but they were not harmed. Byrd and Melanie were killed at around 7:30PM.
Surveillance cameras, installed throughout the home for the safety of the Billingses' children, captured video of the attackers arriving in a red 15-passenger van.