Tices name comes up in police reports
Published 12:16 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009
By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Repeated references to the used car business come up during interviews with witnesses, family members and others connected with the murder case of Byrd and Melanie Billings, whose family was involved in a used car business and financing operation in Pensacola.
One of the names weaved throughout statements to the police is that of Henry Campbell “Cab” Tice, a one-time Brewton car dealer who now owns Hispanic American Auto Sales in Pensacola, Fla.
Tice has been named a “person of interest” in the case. He has been charged separately with writing bad checks to Worldco Financial Services, the financing arm of the car business that Byrd Billings’ family owned. Tice has not been charged in the murders, and he denies any involvement.
Family members and others said Tice and Byrd Billings were involved in a dispute over money, according to transcripts of police interviews.
Blue Markham, the couple’s son-in-law, told police that Tice had been involved in business deals with the family car dealership, but that he later started paying with bad checks.
Tice told investigators it was no secret he “hated” Byrd Billings, according to police reports.
Tice told television station WEAR that he was not involved in the murders.
Some of those who spoke to police mentioned Tice’s connection to the Mexican mafia.
Escambia County, Fla., Sheriff David Morgan has said he has not ruled out the possibility that the murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings were the result of a contract hit.
Tice has told investigators that he and suspect Leonard Patrick Gonzales Jr. had a “father-son” relationship.
Tice told police he had tried to call Gonzales on the night of the murders because he was having a computer problem but couldn’t reach him. When Gonzales called him back the next day, Tice told him that he had solved his problem, according to police reports.
Gonzales’ wife told police investigators that Tice was the person who introduced the Gonzaleses to Billings, who later donated $5,000 to the couple’s business, a martial arts studio for children.
Gonzales — who other suspects have said is the person who shot the Billingses, according to investigators — told an investigator before his arrest that he had been used in the past by several car dealers to “whack” people over business deals.
Gonzales also claimed that other car dealers were unhappy with Byrd Billings, and that Tice came to Gonzales and asked him to “whack” Billings, but that Gonzales refused.
Gonzales also claimed the murders might be related to the Mexican mafia or “MS-13,” a criminal gang that stated in the United States and spread to Central America.
Gonzales repeatedly told investigators he was not involved in the murders.
Several people interviewed said Gonzales was prone to exaggeration and lies.