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Slain Fla. couple’s adult daughter will raise 13 siblings

By Associated Press
July 20, 2009
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PENSACOLA, Fla. - The adult daughter of a slain Florida couple known for adopting 13 special-needs children said she will move into her parents’ home and raise the children.

Ashley Markham, 26, told the Pensacola News Journal that she and her husband intend to care for the children, saying it was her mother’s wish. Markham also defended her parents, Byrd and Melanie Billings, whose lives and deaths had gained national attention since the July 9 attack.

Byrd Billings, 66, was an entrepreneur who had dabbled in used cars, boats, and the adult entertainment industry. His 43-year-old wife was a country music lover who fed the homeless and was devoted to her MySpace page. They adopted 13 children with autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities.

Markham said her father was able to build a comfortable life for the family through a lifetime of hard work and planning.

The two were found slain at their home in what authorities described as a well-executed invasion. Eight people have been arrested in the case.