Some tragedies are truly senseless

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It seems death is permeating the newswires.

With a simple push of a remote button or click of a mouse, instant information was available about Michael Jackson, Steve McNair, Billy Mays or Farrah Fawcett.

To me, however, none was more shocking than the news of the death of a Beulah, Fla., couple found shot to death in their home Thursday.

I can remember a few years ago, reading a story about Melanie and Byrd Billings and their family who lived in the small community outside of Pensacola, Fla. What makes their story so unique — and as equally heartbreaking — was the fact the couple had 17 children in all — four biological children and 13 adopted children, six of whom had special needs. Three of the adopted children died over the years.

Nine of those children, aged 8 to 14, were in the house when men forced their way in and gunned down Melanie and Byrd Billings. They, luckily, were not harmed.

And thankfully by Tuesday, eight — count them, eight — perpetrators were identified. Of those, seven were in custody. And here’s the kicker: the break-in was captured by an extensive video surveillance system the family used to keep tabs on their children.

That surveillance video paints a chilling scene that showed the men were in and out in less than 10 minutes.

All it took was “less than 10 minutes” to take away two people who, from all appearances, wanted nothing more than to be parents to children who needed them.

In reading about the circumstances surrounding the case, the family-issued statements about the couple and their family life, and in one instance, Melanie was described by her daughter as a person who “only wanted to be a mommy” and desired only “to give (the children) a better life.”

By all accounts her husband was cut from the same cloth, and to me, it is a deplorable and inexcusable act of evil to deprive not only those good people of their lives but also to rob those children of the two people who cared the most about them.

And for what? Allegedly, it was for the contents of safe and a few other measly inanimate objects of worth, but you can rest assured that whatever those objects were they can never measure up to the worth of that couple’s love for those children.

It is a sad, sad day, and my heart breaks for everyone who knew that family, those wonderful children and anyone else who has been touched by this tragedy.