A Utah man upset by complaints about the condition of his property summoned a code enforcement officer to his home on Aug. 9, only to fatally shoot her in the head and light her body on fire, according to an arrest document filed in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
The man, Kevin Wayne Billings, 64, proceeded to set fire to the officer’s truck and the home of his neighbors, who he suspected had reported his violations to the city, according to the police. Four dogs died in the blaze, and the house was a total loss.
Mr. Billings was charged with 13 counts, including murder, arson, desecration of a human body and cruelty to animals. Officers also found illegal explosives in his home.
The code enforcement officer, Jill Robinson, 52, had worked for West Valley City, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for 10 years. She was a mother of four and a grandmother of two, and her family described her as a creative, warm woman who loved her job and unflinchingly donated her bone marrow when her brother was in need.
“Mom gave us immeasurable joy, love and guidance,” one of her daughters, Halie Merrill, told reporters a few days after her death. “Without her, we are filled with sorrow. We are heartbroken. We are lost.”
A neighbor investigating the commotion confronted Mr. Billings, who was sitting on his walker in his driveway with a “smirk” on his face, according to the arrest document.
“Why did you shoot her?” the neighbor asked.
He responded, “I’ve had all the harassment I can take.”
Ms. Robinson had sent Mr. Billings a violation notice on July 24 that detailed multiple violations on his property, according to the arrest document. He was told he would have to request an inspection by Aug. 6, or would face $50 daily fines beginning Aug. 7. Phone records indicated that Mr. Billings called Ms. Robinson on Aug. 8.
Mr. Billings’s daughter told investigators that he told her on the morning of Aug. 9 that he had a meeting with a code enforcement officer at 10 a.m. A neighbor called 911 at 10:21 a.m.
Ms. Robinson died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the arrest document. Her body had burn marks consistent with “an accelerant or flammable substance being applied to the body, then lit on fire,” the document said.
The neighbor whose home was set on fire, Ryan Luke, was working in his home office when he heard an explosion and felt a blast, according to the document. He went downstairs and saw thick, black smoke coming through a back window, which had been broken out.
Mr. Luke told investigators that his wife had been contacted by Mr. Billings, who accused them of calling code enforcement on them. Officers found a large hole cut through a chain-link fence that separated their yards; Mr. Luke said he had seen Mr. Billings clearing thick vegetation from the area days earlier.
Ms. Robinson’s obituary described her as an “excellent gardener, football watcher, last-minute camper, and a really loud fisher.”
Her daughters said she was a fun-loving mother who raised them to be strong-willed. She always had a game to play and enjoyed projects around the house, often painting or woodworking. She loved Halloween decorations and April Fools’ Day pranks, and also celebrated occasions like National Doughnut Day and Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Even when one daughter, Katie Merrill, moved away, her mother sent her a Thanksgiving Day Parade bingo card.
Katie Merrill said her mother was very proud of her job, as she “always wanted a position where she could make a difference in the community.”
“Mom was kind of the one who took care of everybody when anything happened,” she said.