This updated photo provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows Bobby Joe Long in custody. Long, is scheduled to be performed Thursday, May 23, 2019, for killing 10 women over a period of eight months in 1984 that terrorized the Tampa Bay area. He was sentenced to 401 years in prison, 28 life sentences and a death sentence. His execution for the murder of the 22-year-old Michelle Simms. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement via AP)
STARKE, Fla. – A serial killer who terrorized Florida with a 1984 spree that claimed the lives of 10 women was put to death Thursday, his execution witnessed by the woman who survived one of his attacks and helped in his capture.
Prisoner Bobby Joe Long was pronounced dead at 6:55 Thursday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison, authorities said. For a long time there was no last words, just closing his eyes as the procedure began, witnesses said.
The killer terrified the Tampa Bay area for eight months in 1984 when women began with death, their bodies often in horrifying poses. Most of the victims were strangled. Some had their throats cut. Others were clubbed.
Enforcement of the law had few clues to the case of Lisa Noland, who has survived a Long attack. She saw Thursday the execution of the front row and seemed teary eyes when they the death room.
Only 17 years old, in 1984, Noland was kidnapped by a Long time outside a church in that year. He raped her, but eventually let her go free. They leave evidence of his crimes at the scene and gave the police the details that lead to his capture.
Long confessed to the crimes, received 28 life sentences and a death sentence for the murder of the 22-year-old Michelle Simms. Another witness of the execution was wearing a polo shirt with a picture of a victim on the front and the words “Gone But Not Forgotten.” On the back photos of all 10 victims, and the words “Those Who Matter.”
Noland was the victim a Long time to let go. The day before her abduction, she had a suicide note written, the planning up to the end of her life after years of sexual abuse by her grandmother’s boyfriend.
But they ended up with a heroic use of that history.
“At the time that he put the gun on my head, it was nothing new for me,” she told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
She said that she knew of her past abuse and that if they fought Long, so it could return to him.
“I had to study this man,” she said. “I had to know who he was, what he drove. If I make the wrong move, it would be the end of my life? So literally, the night before I wrote a farewell letter, and now I was in a position where I had to save my life.”
The researchers were stunned by the trail of bodies Long left in the Tampa Bay area. Artiss Ann Wick was the first woman murdered in March 1984. Nine victims followed.
Enforcement of the law had few clues to Noland told her story.
Noland said Wednesday that they wanted to hear Long’s last words, although they would not be able to address him.
But if she could, she would had said: “I would say,” Thank you for choosing me and not with another 17-year-old girl.'”
“Another 17-year-old girl would probably not have been able to treat it in the way that I did,” she said.
Long moved to West Virginia in the Miami area as a child and was raised by his mother, a cocktail waitress. After high school, he married his childhood sweetheart, but the relationship became violent. The ex-wife, Cindy Brown , told the AP, ” she recalls fearing for her life as the seizures were getting worse and worse, including a day that he choked her and beat her unconscious.
The researchers gave the serial killer the nickname “The Classified ad Rapist” while trying to solve dozens of rapes. Long would be going through ads and making appointments to see items for sale. If a woman opened the door and was alone, he would rape her.
In the AP interview Wednesday, Noland described her attack in painful detail: the church where Long kidnapped her, the gun he pressed her head, the bright light and she could see the car’s dashboard, under the edge of her blindfold. It said Magnum, as in Dodge Magnum.
She was during menstruation, and she made sure that she left blood evidence on the back seat of his car. She could see that the direction in which they drive and when they were at the Interstate 275 north of Tampa. When she was brought to the killer’s apartment, she counted the steps up to the second floor. When he let her use the bathroom, she made sure that they left fingerprints everywhere.
She knew that she could not make him angry. She spoke a spark of goodness he showed while he washed her hair after the rape of her repeatedly. She asked him to do what he did. He said that he had suffered a bad fracture and hated women. They told him that he is okay and that perhaps they could be his girlfriend. They would not tell.
A short time later, Noland dressed. He let her loose and told her not to take the blindfold off for five minutes. They got out of the car and tripped on the curb. Long caught her before she fell. They waited for what seemed like an eternity and pulled off the blindfold. She was in front of a tree in a different cemetery.
Today, she claims the tree as hers, and included in the design of a T-shirt she made to mark the Long version.
And she’s joined the ranks of the law enforcement officials who captured a Long time. She is a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the same department, she helped lead up to Long’s arrest.
Associated Press writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this story.