Betty Pinckney McDuffey and her three children, Yvonne (14), Bilalian (10), and her 16-year-old son, lived in the Moncrief community of Jacksonville, Florida. On July 4, 1987, the children went to bed, and Betty fell asleep on the living room couch of their home on Brook Forest Drive. Sometime during the night, Betty woke up and went to her bedroom, where she fell back asleep.
At 3:00 am, a friend knocked on her door. He saw Betty asleep in the back bedroom and knocked on the window until she woke up. When Betty got up to let her friend in the house, she found Bilan dead. At 3:11 am, the Jacksonville Police Department received calls about a woman in the street screaming. When officers arrived, they found Yvonne,14, and Bilalian, 10, dead in separate bedrooms.
Investigators questioned Betty. Then on September 6, 1987, The Florida Times-Union printed an updated story on the case. Betty changed her story.
“I was set up,” Betty said, First Coast News reports. ” I was truly set up.”
She admitted to leaving the children alone that evening and returning to the house around 3:00 am, where she found them deceased.
"Usually the 14-year-old would come and open the door," Detective Glenn Warkentien said, reports The Times-Union. "But when the 14-year-old didn't open the door, the mother, along with a friend, walked to the back and saw the back door was open. She goes in and that's when she finds the kids."
According to the report, Betty McDuffey arrived home and found the screen on her back door had been ripped away, and the back door was open.
“I saw the window with the screen ripped,” Betty said, First Coast News reports.
She walked into the house and found Yvonne and Bilalian in separate bedrooms.
“I started screaming, ‘Somebody killed my kids! Somebody killed my kids,’” Betty said, First Coast News reports.
“I touched him, and he didn’t move. So, then I started screaming, ‘Something is wrong with my baby,’” Betty said, CBS 47 reports. “I pushed my room door open, and there she was laying in the bed naked — one of her legs up the other stretched out.”
Investigators were disturbed by the savage method the children were killed and will not disclose their cause of death.
“What really got me was when I saw the picture of the two kids,” Detective Glenn Warkentien of Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's Cold Case Unit told First Coast News.
Betty regrets leaving her children home alone that evening. Her 16-year-old son was reportedly not home.
“They were beautiful kids, they loved going to church, they loved going to school,” she remembered, reports First Coast News. ”We loved each other.”
Betty gave the name of a suspect in the case to investigators, but no one has ever been publicly named or arrested in the murders of Yvonne and Bilalian.
In 1987, DNA analysis was unavailable. They submitted samples in 1997 and in 2013, with no hits. In 2021, Detective Warkentien resubmitted the blood, skin, and hair samples taken from the crime scene for DNA comparison. Investigators are asking residents who may have or remember any information in the cold case to contact them.
If you have any information, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-8477.