Breaking News: Sheriff Morgan Press Conference On Billings Murder; Was It A Contract Hit?

July 31, 2009

Sheriff David Morgan  held a press conference tonight on the Billings murder. The press conference comes after CNN reported earlier this afternoon that the murders were a $100,000 contract killing.

“Investigations are evidence driven,” Morgan said, saying that all avenues were explored in the Billings investigation. He said that contract hit was a possibility, but it would take evidence and be up to the state attorney’s office to make that determination.

“We have interviewed many persons of interest, but you will never know their names,” Morgan said, saying that persons of interest are often ruled out quickly.

“In response to media reports that the Billings Murders were contract killings, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan is stating that the possibility that these murders were a contract killing is still being investigated as well as other motives. The case remains open and persons of interest are still being interviewed,” a later afternoon press release from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department said earlier this afternoon.

More details will be posted as they become available.

Century Foreclosure Final Against Helicopter Technology With $740,999.43 Judgment

July 31, 2009

The Town of Century’s foreclosure against Helicopter Technology is now final, and the bottom line on the judge’s order will be good news for the town if a buyer steps forward for the building when it is sold at public auction.

vannevelforeclosure.jpgThe town started mortgage foreclosure proceedings against Helicopter Technology, Inc. in Escambia County Circuit Court on August 26, 2008, after the company defaulted on payment arrangements with the town.

Thursday, Escambia County Circuit Judge Joel Boles finalized the foreclosure, issuing a $740,999.43 judgment in favor of the Town of Century.  The building will be sold at public auction on August 24, with the proceeds up to the judgment amount going to the town.

At the time the mortgage foreclosure proceedings were filed, the town was aware of two other liens against the property. One from Williams, Cox, Weidner & Cox. P.A. from 2005 was for $8,000. Another judgment from 2008 by Anthony Urella and Demetri Urella had a $27,000 balance. After the lawsuit was filed, the town learned that there was an additional lien for $90,000 for a  judgment in favor of Landmark National II Corp.

The town’s foreclosure motions in Escambia County Circuit Court led to the other liens being dismissed. Only one party, the accounting firm, filed an answer supporting their claim. A motion of default was entered against the other defendants, including Helicopter Technology, in October.

Both companies have now agreed to settle with the town for under $10,000. Now, attorney Matt Dannheisser is seeking an additional $17,000 in attorney’s fees added to the claim against Helicopter Technology for his work on the case.

Company owner Georges Van Nevel apparently left the country at about the time the foreclosure proceedings were filed.

Fire Chief: North Escambia Volunteers Will Stay; No Impact After Volunteers Removed From Brent VFD

July 31, 2009


The removal of volunteers from one Escambia County fire station does not signal any changes to fire stations in North Escambia; they will will continue to be manned by volunteers and a couple of daytime paid crews.

Acting Escambia County Fire Chief Jim Sanders removed the volunteers from the Brent Station recently, replacing them with paid crews to man the station 24/7. Sanders said the action was taken due to a decrease in the number of volunteers at the Brent Station, one of the county’s busiest.

Sanders said there are no plans to remove volunteer firefighters or add additional paid crews at any of the five stations — Century, Cantonment, McDavid, Walnut Hill and Molino — that serve North Escambia.

“Everybody in the north end has enough volunteers,” Sanders told “They have the volunteers to man the equipment and get it out. There are no problems in the north end.”

In addition, the call load in North Escambia is far below that of a station like Brent and several of the other departments in the middle and southern parts of the county.

There are two paid crews Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Century and Molino stations that augment the volunteer force. Those crews, Sanders said, fill the void created in the volunteer departments by the simple fact that many of the volunteers have jobs that might prevent them from answering daytime calls.

firevol11.jpg“The north end departments are part of close-knit communities, and they just work,” the acting fire chief said.

Eric Gilmore agrees. He serves as chief of the McDavid Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and is also president of the Escambia County Volunteer Firefighters Association.

“The county’s volunteers are very crucial to the fire system,” Gilmore said. “In the north end, the departments have the volunteers that are getting the trucks out the door, and we expect that will continue with no interruption.”

Sanders got his start in fire services at the Brent Volunteer Fire Department, signing on as a volunteer in 1973. He remained their until 2000 when he was hired a paid battalion chief.

“It was very hard to make the decision to remove the volunteers; it hurt bad,” he said. But rather than pay stipends to a few volunteers, Sanders said the county felt that the money would be better invested in paid firefighters that could properly man the station and answer a high call volume.

The volunteer removal at Brent was not spur of the moment; Sanders said County Administrator Bob McLaughlin met with the department about six months ago and told them the action would be taken if they could not increase their volunteer numbers and response rate.

Pictured top: A volunteer firefighter prepares to begin battling a house fire in Walnut Hill last year. Pictured inset: A firefighter at work. Pictured below: A Molino volunteer battles a hay fire. file photos, click to enlarge. 


TXT U L8R: Bill Would Ban Texting While Driving In Florida

July 31, 2009

A push for legislation to place restrictions on drivers’ cell phone use has begun in Florida in the wake of a highly publicized report about the dangers of driving while talking or texting.

Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, filed a bill (HB 41) that would ban texting while driving. Several bills dealing with driving distractions have been filed over the past few years, but have never gained traction.

Under the legislation, “no person shall operate a moving motor vehicle while reading, manually writing or typing, or sending a message on an electronic wireless communications device.”

Holder has pushed for the legislation previously and said in a press release that it was time that Florida addressed the issue.

“This is the third year in a row that I have filed the bill in the Florida House and I will continue to do so to keep the issue in the forefront,” Holder said.

Holder’s bill comes following the recent release by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute of a study showing drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved or nearly involved in an accident if they are text messaging while driving. The study concluded that drivers are nearly three times as likely to be involved or nearly involved in an accident while dialing a phone and 1.3 times as likely while talking on the phone.

Holder’s bill would include provisions that would not penalize people who are texting to “report illegal activity; summon medical or other emergency help; or prevent injury to a person or property.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation banning texting while driving, and others have banned it for drivers with learners’ permits. Six states and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phones while driving.

Clothes Closet To Offer Free Help For The Needy

July 31, 2009

If you are in need of clothing, the Community Clothes Closet in Jay can help.

The Community Clothes Closet will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon at the Jay Community Center. Everything is free, and everyone is welcome.

The Community Clothes Closet is also in need of donations. For more information, contact Michelle at (850) 675-8561 or (850) 686-6124.

George W. Roberson, Jr.

July 30, 2009

Mr. George W. Roberson, Jr., 70, passed away on Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at a Pensacola hospital.

George was a native of Pensacola, FL, a former resident of Pineview, AL, a resident of Atmore, AL for the past 41 years and attended the Baptist Church. Preceded in death a Son, George Washington Roberson, III.

Survivors include: his Wife, Virginia Ruth Roberson of Okeechobee, FL; three Sons, Buddy Lee Roberson, Samuel Thomas Roberson, and Mitchel Roberson, all of Atmore, AL; three Daughters, Renita Ann Henderson of Flomaton, AL, Shelia Elaine Van Ree of Atmore, AL, and Georgie Annie Roberson of Red Level, AL; 17 Grandchildren; 5 Great-Grandchildren; a Brother, Gillard Roberson of Gulf Shores, AL; and a Sister, Shirley Connel of Gulf Shores, AL.

Funeral services will be held Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 2:00 P.M. at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home with the Rev. Adam Armstrong officiating.

Burial will follow at Pineview Cemetery.

Visitation will be held Saturday, August 1, 2009 between 6:00 and 9:00 P.M. at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home.

Pallbearers will be Samuel Roberson, Mitchel Roberson, Buddy Roberson, David Van Ree, Tim Van Ree, and James Henderson.

Molino Marijuana: Deputies Pull Pot Plants From Wooded Area

July 30, 2009


molino-marijuana-13.jpgThe Escambia Sheriff’s Department pulled about $3,500 worth of marijuana plants out of a wooded area in Molino Thursday afternoon.

David Poole from the ECSO Narcotics Division said that six plants were recovered from about 100 yards into a heavily wooded area on Sean Road, a small dirt road off Highway 95A about halfway between Molino and Barrineau Park roads.

Poole said that there may be charges brought against a suspect in the case, but not the property owner.

“There are no indications that the property owner had any knowledge of it,” Poole said. The marijuana was located after deputies received a tip from an informant.

molino-marijuana-19.jpgAlong with the plants with a street value up to $3,500, deputies recovered fertilizer,  water and what appeared to be an electric irrigation system constructed from a battery and a small pump. Poole said it appeared the plants had been started in some sort of container (click to enlarge photo at left) before being transferred to the wooded area.

The plants and grow equipment was will be processed for additional evidence such as fingerprints.

For more photos from the scene, click here.

Pictured top: Shelley Dill, an Escambia County Sheriff’s Department crime scene technician, loads marijuana plants into her vehicle Thursday afternoon in Molino. Pictured top inset: Narcotics Division Deputy David Poole with a recovered marijuana plant. Pictured bottom inset: Poole shows how the plant was likely started in a container; the root has a squared shape and has insulation or planting pot material attached. Pictured below: Some of the grow operation items recovered. photos, click to enlarge.


Updated: Pamela Long Wiggins Arrested On Bigamy Charges For Having Two Husbands

July 30, 2009

Updated:  Pamela Long Wiggins, 47, has been arrested again in Escambia County — this time on bigamy charges for being married to two men at the same time. first reported July 16 that court records obtained by indicated that Wiggins appeared to be married to two men.

Biggins was charged in Okaloosa County where her second marriage took place. She was released Thursday night on $5,000 bond.

Wiggins, who is charged as an accessory after the fact in connection with the murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings, was married in December 31, 2008, to Hugh Gregory Wiggins, 48, by a court clerk in Shalimar, Florida. That marriage license, as first reported by on July 16, was witnessed by murder suspect Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. and his wife Tabitha C. Gonzalez. (License is pictured below, click to enlarge.)

But court records in Escambia County indicate that her divorce from her previous husband is not complete.

Under the name Pamela Long Malden, she filed for divorce from James Colburn Malden, 68, on January 29, 2008, seeking to an a marriage from May 5, 2007. Escambia County court records indicate that the case is still open.

The bigamy charge arrest warrant states that confidential sources told Okaloosa investigators that there were photographs of Pamela Long and Hugh Wiggins displayed near a stairwell in her Gulf Breeze home.  She told the confidential sources that she had married Hugh Wiggins to shield him from about $11,000 in back taxes, and she admitted that her marriage to Walden was still valid.

“Both sources heard Pamela state that she was a bigamist,” the arrest warrant states.

When arrested on the bigamy charge, Wiggins was out on $10,000 bond after she was charge as an accessory after the fact in connection to the July 19 deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings.

Pictured below: Pamela Long Wiggins’ marriage license in Okaloosa County date December 31, 2008, click to enlarge.


Fire Departments Respond To Century Woods Apartments

July 30, 2009

Fire departments from across the area were dispatched to reported fire at Century Woods Apartments about 8:40 this morning.

The fire turned out to be a pot on the stove in one apartment.

There was no damage reported at the apartment complex located near Highway 4 and North Century Boulevard.

‘Don’t Take For Granted That You Will See Your Kids Grown’

July 30, 2009


Marty Green of Bratt thought she felt bad from too much stress in her life. Within a few shorts weeks, she learned that it was not stress but stage IV lung cancer.

The year started off rough for Marty and her husband Greg — their teenage daughter Blaze was critically injured in car accident on Greenland Road in Davisville on January 7. Blaze’s condition was dire at the time, with doctors telling the family that she should have been paralyzed from the waist down. She spent weeks in a halo to hold her head in a fixed position as she recovered from a fractured neck. The family was also busy taking care of a bedridden relative. Marty knew she was feeling bad; and she knew that there was a lot of stress in her life.

“I just thought I was having a much needed nervous breakdown,” Marty said.  She felt “pretty bad” for a couple of weeks and had a few chest pains. She had always been one of those healthy people that seldom visited a doctor. But she found a doctor, and she was treated for stress. Two months later, the treatments were not working, and she knew something else was wrong.

She was now losing her voice, so she made an appointment with an ENT — ear, nose and throat specialist. He thought he saw something during her exam under her vocal cords, and he ordered a CT scan. There was nothing under her vocal cords, but there were spots on her lungs, adrenal glands and lymph nodes. A biopsy was scheduled the next day. The results were not good.

It took three weeks to get an appointment with an oncologist. The news was really bad, and the words were hard to hear: Stage IV large cell carcinoma.

“He would not give me a prognosis,” Marty, 44, said. “He just said it is bad. One day at time. He did not want me to think about that.”

She is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy. Tuesday and Wednesday were her first full days in many weeks at home without trips to Pensacola for medical appointments.

martygreen10.jpg“I am just hoping that maybe I will feel better for a few more days,” Marty said. “It’s now in my bones,” she added, almost as an afterthought.

Her conversation was matter of fact, repeating what the doctors have said. She talked about the disease that has attacked her body with little emotion, almost as if she was talking about someone else. She has told the story before.

But the next part of the story was the hard part.

“I want to wish that it was all a dream; you just don’t think this will happen to you,” she said.

“I have to keep my faith up. The Lord is going to step in and do His thing. He did it for Blaze; I know he can do it for me.” She paused for a moment. “If it is His will.”

“I worry about the kids, Greg, my mom.”

It is easy to see in the Green’s living room that family is important. The family pictures are everywhere. They are not all the posed portraits that everyone displays. Some are just simple snapshots of cherished moments over the years. Like a photo of son Blake, now 12, when he played machine pitch ball a few years ago. It’s one of her favorites.

She enjoys looking at the photos as she sits in her corner chair in the living room.  She enjoys the family memories.

“I know the Lord can heal. But he might have a different plan for me. We just don’t know. I worry about Greg and the kids.”

She knows that if she is not healed, that there might be other reasons.

“It might be his plan to send a message to all those out there to take better care of themselves, and get their faith straight. You never know when it is your time to go,” she said, followed by a long pause as she gathered her strength to continue. It was hard to say the next words.

“Don’t take for granted that you will see your kids grown.”

There was more to that statement than might be imagined. Marty has already lost one child, a daughter almost five years old that died after being thrown from a horse. She found out she was pregnant with Blaze just a month later.

“She was my angel. She was my answered prayer.”

martygreenblazecar.jpgIn January, when she found out Blaze was in that car wreck  and was being transported via LifeFlight, it was hard.

“When I almost lost Blaze, it was was more than I could stand.”

For Blaze, 16, it’s been a tough year. From the car accident, to the halo cast, to missing the rest of the school year, to the decision not to return as a Northview cheerleader — it’s been a lot.

When asked about her mom, Blaze answered, “It’s been a big change; I was used to her doing things around here, now I have to do them.” It was one of those answers that someone gives because it is the easier thing to say. When asked again, she paused. It was a lot for a daughter to say about her mom.

“When I think about her not being here,” Blaze said, no longer able to fight back the tears, “…think about her not being here…it’s a lot for a 16 year old. God will be here for us.”

“I tell her to never forget what the Lord did for her, and don’t let other people forget either,” Marty said. “He is good.”

The Green family does not have health insurance.  A coed softball tournament to benefit Marty Green will be held beginning at 8 a.m. on August 1 at Bradberry Park in Walnut Hill. The coed softball team must consist of seven men and three women, double elimination. There is a $200 entry fee. For more information, contact Bodie Tullis at (850) 327-6788 or (850) 327-6722, Theresa Hanks at (850) 327-6722 or Pam Brown at (850) 327-6155. The tournament is sponsored by Northwest Escambia Little League and Northwest Escambia Football, with all proceeds going toward Marty Green’s medical expenses.

“I just want to thank everyone for what they have done for us,” Marty said.

Pictured top: Greg and Marty Green, daughter Blaze Green and son Blake Green. Pictured top inset: Marty Green prior to learning that she had cancer. Submitted photos for Pictured bottom inset: Blaze Green was severely injured while riding in the backseat of this car on January 7. file photo, click to enlarge.

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