A Florida woman said she is fulfilling a promise she never thought she'd have to keep by raising nine special-needs children her parents had adopted before they were shot to death in their home in July.
"She would talk about it to us, `If something were to happen, make sure my babies are taken care of,'" Ashley Markham said of her mother during an interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that aired Wednesday.
Markham, who appeared with her husband on the show, said her parents, Byrd and Melanie Billings, traveled a lot, and that her mother asked that the children be kept together, not placed in group homes or foster care.
"I told her, `You don't ever have to worry about that.'"
Markham, who has declined numerous interview requests from the national media, allowed the show's cameras into the home west of Pensacola, Fla., where her parents were killed and where she and her husband, James "Blue" Markham, now raise the children.
She said after sleeping on the couch when they first arrived, she and her husband now sleep in the bedroom where her parents were shot during what authorities say was a home-invasion robbery.
"I just developed a certain peace, almost like her (Melanie Billings) telling me, `It's OK, you can do this,'" Markham told Winfrey.
Markham did not discuss the details of the slayings or the eight people who are charged in the July 9 attack that occurred while the children were at home.
But during a segment in which a film crew from Winfrey's show visited the house, Markham and the children _ who have special needs ranging from Down's syndrome to autism to fetal alcohol syndrome _ did talk briefly about the night of the shootings.
"I can only imagine what they were thinking and what they saw," Markham said.
The Billings adopted 13 special-needs children and had two biological children each. Nine of the children, all between the ages of 4 and 11, were home when their parents were killed.
At least one knew she heard shots fired, but she didn't know what it meant.
"I heard shooting guns and all of that downstairs, but I thought it was my dad yelling at the dog for eating a shoe or something," Adrianna said.
A boy who was not identified in the clip said of his parents' death: "They died by some mean guys shot them."
Markham, who told Winfrey that she doesn't think the younger children understand what happened, said the subject of their parents' death comes up _ but only when the children want it to.
"I let them talk to me when they're ready to talk to me," she said. "They'll come pull Blue aside or pull me aside. ... If there's a fit, it usually leads to, `I miss Mom.'"
Markham said she makes sure the children don't see it when she gets upsets over her parents' deaths.
She and her husband also said they are getting by financially and that they hope to sell the house they were living in before they moved into their parents' home. But they said while they have received about $1,100 in donations, that money is only a fraction of what it costs to raise nine children.
"The power bill was $1,285," her husband said.