A few days after Byrd and Melanie Billings were murdered in their Florida home in early July, Independent News publisher Rick Outzen ran an exclusive on his blog disputing the state attorney's version of events and suggesting the murders may have been a contract killing. Despite the story being disputed by competing news outlets and other individuals, the local sheriff is now investigating the claim, saying that many of Outzen's sources have been correct. Outzen, whose Pensacola weekly has applied for AAN membership a few times and is a familiar face at AAN conventions, tells the New York Times that he feels vindicated, and his work has led to an assignment from The Daily Beast and praise from local officials. "I don't always agree with him, but he is the conscience of the community," the chairman of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce says. "People have come to trust that Rick's going to be out there, pushing us in ways sometimes we're not comfortable with."