PENSACOLA, Florida - The person assigned to turn off surveillance cameras before an elaborate, deadly break-in at a sprawling Florida home never showed up, but the seven suspects in custody apparently did not know that, authorities said Wednesday.
Melanie and Byrd Billings, known for adopting a large brood of children with special needs were shot to death about a week ago. An extensive surveillance system captured footage of masked men - some dressed as ninjas - slipping into front and back doors at the home and stealing a safe, among other items.
The men were in the nine-bedroom house for just four minutes and on the property for 10, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. Video captured during that time led investigators to a red van used as a getaway car and eventually to the suspects, police said.
Morgan said investigators have been pondering "the huge gap" in what was otherwise a precise, methodical crime for which the suspects had trained 30 days. They were a loosely connected group of mostly day labourers who knew each other through a power washing business and an auto detailing operation.
Investigators have not said what was in the safe or what else was taken from the house. Morgan said they also don't know the identity of the mysterious person assigned to turn off the camera system or why that person didn't show up.
Also Wednesday, Morgan asked for the public's help in finding a real estate agent named Pamela Laverne Long. Police do not believe she was at the house the night the Billingses were killed but they do believe she rented property to one of the suspects.
Morgan also said they are looking for a second person of interest, though he didn't identify them. He said investigators believe Long has "significant and substantial information" needed to conclude the case.
Associated Press writers Melissa Nelson in Pensacola and Tamara Lush in Miami and the AP News Research Center in New York contributed to this report.