SPRING HILL, Fla (WFLA) – What does it feel like to have a serial killer as a father?
Lonely. Isolating. Humiliating. Depressing. All of those things. And more.
For Billy Mansfield III, the bloodline he was born into was the stuff of nightmares, the contents of which were so graphic, he’s tried for decades to forget the grisly details. Many memories, he admits, were so painful, he suppressed them, pushing them down deep into the far reaches of his mind.
He buried the pain, just as his dad did.
For a while, it worked. The horrific images eventually faded. He forgot about the terror, the despair and the things he saw.
But, the self-preservation was brief. The solace he felt after purging the past was merely a mirage. The slide show of deadly mental images were there the whole time, seeping slowly into his tortured mind, simmering undetected just below the surface. The inner calm he hoped would be permanent was instead a cruel, fleeting vapor. In burying the brutality of his life, he felt free.
The very strategy he thought would save him instead unleashed the deepest, darkest sadness he had ever known. He had no way of knowing the chaos it would create for years to come.
He never knew that suppressing the pain would only cause more, a savage return of his recollection. He wanted to forget he was the son of a Hernando County serial killer who carried out vicious murders at his childhood home.
When your foundation is filled with evil, how do you create a new world for yourself?
A normal life has eluded him for years. It’s been impossible.
The struggle to overcome his family’s dark past never ends. It’s a daily battle, leaving him drained and severely depressed. The killer’s son knows firsthand just how pervasive the painful memories can be. The mental demons he’s faced made their mark at a young age.
His serial killer father was seemingly the architect of his son’s lost and broken life. Billy Mansfield III would never break free, even now- years after the murders.
The Mansfield family tree, built on violence and drug use, according to arrest records, began with the patriarch, William Mansfield. He lived with his son, Billy, in their Spring Hill home.
Court documents shed light on the unspeakable crime committed there in the late seventies where the house was host to young girls who spent their final moments of life suffering and terrified.
Billy Mansfield was said to use the family’s sweeping property as a burial ground, needing space to bury his victims. Prior to the murders, he would feed his obsession by kidnapping young women, transporting them to the Spring Hill home, all while keeping them alive to witness their crippling fear.
The secluded family home became the foundation where Billy Manfield’s taste for killing began a deadly trend for the young man, which only fueled his hunger. This would soon put into motion an insatiable crime spree that would ultimately end with four life sentences in prison.
Until that day, the murders continued.
But, in a small town like Spring Hill, secrets didn’t stay secrets for long. Billy Mansfield tried to fly below radar, but residents caught on and didn’t like what they were hearing – disturbing rumors with all roads leading back to the Mansfield family.
At one point, the suspicion surrounding Billy Mansfiled’s crime spree secret was nearing exposure. The fear of getting caught by law enforcement in Hernando County soon motivated the serial killer to travel out West with his brother, Gary.
His obsession followed.
After arriving in California, the change in scenery was a short distraction, making room for a new need. The urge was back, quashed only briefly during the journey out West, Once there, it grew stronger. It became irresistible Temptation was now in control and the Florida killer was anxious to give in to his ruthless, diabolical habit.
Authorities say the future serial killer raped and strangled a mother of three and left her body in a ditch near a California campground where he and his brother, Gary, were staying. While the woman’s death was being investigated in California, news of the deadly crime spree back home broke wide open, and along with it, an epic reveal.
Spring Hill was stunned. Residents were sickened by the graphic details, left shaken by fact that the killer lived among them. He was next door. They knew him, saw him and lived their lives near him.
Hernando County deputies found the bodies of four people at the family home where the deadly desires of f Billy Mansfield were carried out in secret for years, hidden from the experienced eye of local law enforcement.
Sooner or later, people get caught.
The discovery in Hernando County was was the work of Billy Mansfield. His actions would destroy countless lives. It broke people. They felt helpless. The heartache was gripping. The locals lived in fear with one terrifying fact that haunted them daily.
This man lived among us.
He wanted to terrorize people, so he did. He wanted to watch people suffer, so he did. He wanted to bury his victims near his home, so he did. His decisions were selfish and cruel. He didn’t care.
He enjoyed the cruelty of torture, followed by murder.
The incompressible actions of this Florida-based serial killer were compared to throwing a pebble in a pond. The second the rock makes contact with the water’s surface, the effects are set in motion. They cannot be stopped and will continue.
It’s a powerful example of cause and effect
The ripples start, and they seemingly never stop. Their expansion grows, progressing slowly across the water. And, those ripples will soon reach the pond’s edge – far from the original location where the rock was thrown.
The entire pond feels it
The tiniest pebble changes adversely affect to carry out multiple murders would adversely affect lives for years to come.
One sucA constant worry plagued his son, Billy. How do you explain to strangers that your family has a history of murder, abuse and prolific drug use? How exactly do you tell someone your father is a convicted serial killer who murdered five girls, then buried them in the yard of your childhood home? Then, there’s the grandfather who did time in prison as a twice-convicted child molester. And finally, an uncle so heavily-addicted to methamphetamine, his arrest record read like a phone book with countless drug charges, many of them based at home where a meth lab was always cooking toxic chemicals.
This was his real-life horror show, a past bringing deep shame, embarrassment and ultimately epic grief. He thought he survived the worst of it. He would soon realize, his battle to survive his past would last a lifetime.
For him, the goal was clear. Find peace, channel it, savor it and stop running from his past and the demons it held. He welcomed the challenge, desperate for a normal life.
The peace he desperately searched for was a long, winding road that only led to more roads. He just wanted to arrive at the end, where a finish line awaited, along with a prize, the promise of happiness. But for Billy, that simply does not exist. Living a life, free from chaos after trying to outrun his past, was exhausting.
People were judgmental. They were mean. They hated his family.
He carried the sins of his serial killer father, day and night. People wouldn’t let him forget. They also assumed that if his father was a ruthless murderer, he must have those same traits.
He says he will spend a lifetime paying for his father’s crimes, which were committed during a time when he was just learning to ride a bike, never knowing bodies were buried just a few feet away.
He grew up fast.
“It’s been brought up nonstop my whole life. I can’t get away from it. People call you a bad person,” Billy, who lives in Michigan, told News Channel 8. “I think that’s where the PTSD comes from, cause you block it out of your mind. You can’t really comprehend what’s going on. Then over the years you get asked a lot of questions like the ones you’re asking and. When you get older, it starts flooding your mind with what happened.”
Billy still has a relationship with his father, who is currently serving four life sentences in a California prison. The father and son talk three times a week. No topic is off limits, including tough questions.
“I’m not going to say he committed those murders, that’s the only thing I asked him. ‘Did you commit those murders? No, I didn’t commit them,'” he recalled his father saying.
Mansfield will never return to Florida, where his childhood home was the subject of a massive search this week. He says he believes more bodies are buried there and wants search teams to keep looking.
“Personally, I think there’s a lot,” he told us. “I just can’t see someone gonna stop at one. And if there’s four and five, you ain’t stopping at one, you ain’t stopping at four and five.”
He is still searching for peace these days, while battling brutal PTSD.
Mansfield said he hopes the families of the women who were found decades ago buried in his family’s yard can find peace as well, and that he wants the excavations to continue.
“I’d always love to see them put at peace. It’s terrible. It’s unthinkable. What if it’s my family? People deserve to be happy,” Mansfield said.