Bobby Joe LONG
A.K.A.: "Classified Ad Rapist"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Serial rapist
Number of victims: 10
Date of murders: May-November 1984
Date of arrest: November 16, 1984
Date of birth: October 14, 1953
Victims profile: Ngeun Thi Long, 20 / Michelle Denise Simms, 22 / Elizabeth B. Loudenback, 22 / Chanel Devon Williams, 18 / Karen Beth Dinsfriend, 28 / Kimberly Kyle Hopps, 22 / Virginia Lee Johnson, 18 / Kim Marie Swann, 21 / Vicki Elliott / An unidentified woman
Method of murder: Most victims were strangled and/or asphyxiated; however, one was shot and one died of a cut throat
Location: Tampa Bay Area, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 25, 1986
Bobby Joe Long (born October 14, 1953), also known as Bobbie Joe Long, Robert Joe Long and Robert Joseph Long, is an American serial killer, as of October 2007 on death row in the state of Florida. Long abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay Area during an eight month period in 1984. He released his last victim, after sexually assaulting her for a period of 26 hours. She provided information to the police that enabled them to track him down.
Long was born October 14, 1953 in Kenova, West Virginia. He was born with an extra x chromosome, because of which he grew breasts during puberty, for which he was severely teased. He also suffered multiple head injuries as a child. He had a dysfunctional relationship with his mother; he slept in her bed until he was a teenager, and resented her multiple short-term boyfriends. He married his high school girlfriend in 1974, with whom he had two children before she filed for divorce in 1980.
Prior to the Tampa Bay areas murders, Long had committed at least 50 rapes as the "Classified Ad Rapist" in Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, Miami and Dade County. Starting in 1981, Long answered classified ads for small appliances, and if he found a woman alone at home, he would rape her. He was tried and convicted for rape in 1981 but requested a new trial which was granted. The charges were later dropped.
Before Bobby killed in Florida, he lived in Long Beach, CA on the 2500 Block of Eucalyptus Avenue where he rented a room from a female named Kathy. Bobby attended an underwater welding course and dated a 17 year old girl across the street from his rented room. Bobby began contacting women through the Penny Saver and other classified ads and when he found a woman alone, he asked to use the bathroom, took out his "rape kit" and brutally raped and robbed the woman. These crimes were never prosecuted by the local California authorities.
Long moved to the Tampa area in 1983. Hillsborough County had been averaging about 30 to 35 homicides per year in the eighties. Then, in 1984, the murder rate escalated. During one eight month period, a killer with a unique method of binding, raping and killing his victims, then dumping them in unusual positions and poses, was averaging a murder every other week. The first victim was discovered in May 1984, when the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) was called to a crime scene where the body of a nude woman had been found.
This began an intensive investigation into the abduction, rape, and murder of at least 10 women in three counties in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas) involving the personnel from the HCSO, the FBI, the Tampa Police Department (TPD), the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (PCSO), and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The bodies were found usually long after the murder in a state of decomposition, dumped near a rural roadside and dragged into the woods.
In 1984, Long, then on probation for assault, began driving around areas known for prostitution and shoddy bars where women were found alone, "trolling" for victims. He claimed his victims approached him, after which he persuaded them to enter his car and took them to an apartment. There he bound his victims with rope and ligature collars he fashioned using a variety of rope knots, later confessing that he derived sadistic pleasure from the abduction, rape and brutal murder of his victims.
Some he strangled, others he cut the throats of or bludgeoned to death. The bodies were placed in unique positions or "displayed" for example with legs splayed five feet apart at odd angles. Of Long's ten known victims, five were identified as prostitutes, two as exotic dancers, one was a factory worker, one was a student, and one was of unknown occupation.
At the time of his capture, Long was wanted by three jurisdictions in the Tampa Bay Area who collected forensic evidence, including clothing and carpet fibers, semen, ligature marks, and rope knots.
Robert Long was arrested on November 16, 1984, and charged with the sexual battery and kidnapping of Lisa McVey. Long signed a formal Miranda waiver, and consented to questioning. After the detectives procured a confession for the McVey case, their questioning focused on a series of unsolved sexual battery homicides pending in the area. As the detectives began to question Long about the murders, he replied, "I'd rather not answer that." The detectives continued the interrogation, and handed Long photographs of the various murder victims. At this point, Long stated, "The complexion of things sure have changed since you came back into the room. I think I might need an attorney." No attorney was provided, and Long eventually confessed to eight murders in Hillsborough County, and one murder in Pasco County.
Fiber evidence analysis by the FBI linked Long's vehicle to most of his victims.
The Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office confronted Long with the evidence. The State Attorney and the Public Defender's Office of Hillsborough County reached a plea bargain for eight of the homicides and the abduction and rape of Lisa McVey. Long pleaded guilty on September 24, 1985, to all of these crimes, receiving 26 life sentences without the possibility of parole (24 concurrent and two to run consecutively to the first 24) and seven life sentences with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
In addition, the State retained the option to seek the death penalty for the murder of Michelle Simms. In July 1986, the penalty phase of the Michelle Simms trial was held in Tampa. It lasted one week and again received extensive media attention. Long was found guilty and was sentenced to die in Florida's electric chair.
Although Long confessed to raping and killing women, his confession was thrown out. His trial proceeded straight to the penalty phase, which was possible in the 1980s. In early 1985, he received the death penalty.
Long was convicted and appealed of his first degree murder conviction and death sentence for crimes committed in Hillsborough County.
Long appealed his first degree murder conviction and sentence of death in the death of Virginia Johnson.
On appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Pasco County, in which Long's death sentence was vacated, his conviction reversed, and his case remanded to the trial court with directions to enter an order of acquittal for the murder of Virginia Johnson.
On February 24, 1999, Long accused the Capital Collateral Regional Council (the state office defending death row inmates in their appeals) of revealing his private letters to a book author, thus violating attorney-client privilege. He also accused the agency of running a "death pool", betting on the date inmates would be executed on, and asked that the agency be removed from his case. An investigation concluded that these allegations were unfounded. Long's petition for a writ of mandamus to require Bob Dillinger, the public defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, to relinquish possession and control of his file in State v. Long, was denied.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Long has one five-year sentence, four 99-year sentences, 28 life sentences, and one death sentence.
Bobby Joe Long
Born October 14, 1953, at Kenova, West Virginia, Long may be the classic case of someone "destined" to become a random killer. With other members of his family, he suffered from a genetic disorder characterized by an extra "X" chromosome, causing his glands to produce abnormal amounts of estrogen in puberty, with the result that his breasts began to enlarge.
Surgery removed six pounds of excess tissue from his chest, but the resultant gender confusion remained, perhaps exacerbated by his mother, who shared Long's bed until he reached the age of 13 years. (Long's mother, twice divorced, denies his allegations that he watched her entertain numerous male "visitors" in their one-bedroom apartment.)
Aside from genetic and family problems, Long also suffered a series of grievous head injuries beginning at age five, when he was knocked unconscious in a fall from a swing, one eyelid skewered by a stick. The following year, he was thrown from his bicycle, crashing headfirst into a parked car, with injuries including loss of several teeth and a severe concussion. At age seven, he fell from a pony onto his head, remaining dizzy and nauseous for several weeks after the accident.
At age 13, Long met the girl who would become his wife and simultaneously gave up sleeping with his mother. Various accounts agree that he was dominated by his girlfriend almost from the moment of their meeting, but his mother kept her hand in, too, the females in his life apparently cooperating rather than competing. Long enlisted in the army prior to marriage, and he crashed a motorcycle six months later, shattering his helmet with the impact of his skull on asphalt.
Convalescing in the hospital, he was alternately stricken by blinding headaches and unpredictable violent rages, discovering a new obsession with sex. While still in a cast, Long masturbated five times a day to relieve himself, continuing the practice at home despite twice-daily intercourse with his wife. Still, it was not enough, and soon he began to search for other prey.
Between 1980 and 1983, Long terrorized the Florida communities of Miami, Ocala and Fort Lauderdale as the "Classified Ad Rapist," preying on housewives in mid-day attacks. Dropping by while their husbands were working, Long typically produced a knife, bound his victims, raped them violently, and robbed their homes before he fled. Convicted of rape in November 1981, Long was cleared on appeal through discovery of "witnesses" alleging the victim's consent, and so the attacks continued, with murder shortly added to his list of crimes.
Unlike the 50 women raped by Long, his murder victims were selected from the ranks of prostitutes or other women whom he viewed as "tramps." Between May and November 1984, he strangled, stabbed and shot at least nine victims, with a tenth suspected by police but never charged against him.
In early November, he snatched a 17-year-old girl off the street and raped her, sparing her life when she described acts of incest performed by her father. In releasing a victim capable of describing him and his car, Long sealed his own fate, but police were too slow to save victim Kim Swann, murdered two days later in a final frenzy.
Arrested on November 17, 1984, Long was charged with nine counts of first-degree murder, plus felony counts of abduction, rape, and sexual assault on his surviving victim. Convicted at his trial in early 1985, he was sentenced to die.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
The "Bobby Joe" Long Serial Murder Case:
A Study in Cooperation
Capt. Gary Terry
Tampa, FL SA Michael P. Malone, M.S.
Hairs and Fiber Unit
Federal Bureau of Investigation
On May 13,1984, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) responded to the scene of a homicide in southern Hillsborough County, where the body of a nude female had been discovered. This was the beginning of an intensive, 8-month investigation into the abduction, rape, and murder of at least 10 women in 3 jurisdictions in the Tampa Bay area. This investigation would ultimately involve personnel from the HCSO, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Tampa Police Department (TPD), the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (PCSO), and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Never before had the HCSO been involved in a serial murder case of this magnitude. During one period of time in the 8 months, the killer was averaging a murder every other week. This series of grisly killings would eventually end due to the efforts of the homicide detectives who pored over each crime scene striving to find any and all physical evidence, the expertise and skill of the examiners in the FBI Laboratory who analyzed this evidence, the close cooperation and continuous exchange of information between the law enforcement agencies involved, and the fact that the killer released one of his victims alive, yielding physical evidence that would ultimately tie all of the cases together.
The first body, nude and bound, of a young Oriental female was discovered by young boys late in the afternoon, in a remote area of southern Hillsborough County. This victim was identified as Ngeun Thi Long, a 20-year-old Laotian female. She was employed as an exotic dancer at a lounge located on Nebraska Avenue in the City of Tampa. She normally worked the evening shift and was known to use alcohol and drugs. Long was last seen in the apartment complex where she lived. This was in an area near the University of South Florida, where many of the residents were transient. She had been missing for approximately 3 days.
Long had been dead for approximately 48 to 72 hours. She was lying face down with her hands tied behind her back with rope and fabric. A rope was also observed around her neck which had a "leash-like" extension approximately 14 inches in length. It was noted that the ropes around the wrists and neck were different in nature.1 Under the victim's face was a piece of fabric which may have been used as a gag. The victim's feet were spread apart to a distance of over 5 feet, and it appeared as if the body had been deliberately "displayed" in this manner. The victim's clothing and personal belongings were never found. During the autopsy a large open wound was discovered on the victim's face. Decomposition was extensive in this area, but the cause of death was determined to be strangulation. Tire impressions were found on the roadway leading to the body. It appeared that three of the tires were of different brands and all were worn.
Hillsborough County had been averaging about 30 to 35 homicides per year, and while some prior victims had been bound, none had been bound in this manner. Prior to the death of Long, the HCSO had completed a difficult homicide investigation in which the forensic work had been done by the FBI Laboratory. The close cooperation between the HCSO and the FBI Laboratory resulted in the successful conclusion of the case and the conviction of the individual who had committed the murder. Thus, the decision was made to fly the evidence in the Long murder to the FBI Laboratory in Washington, DC, accompanied by a HCSO homicide detective.
The hairs that were removed from the evidence were examined and found to be either the victim's hairs or unsuitable for comparison. The serology examinations were also negative due to the decomposition of the body. The knots in the ropes were examined and were identified; however, these knots were extremely common and not unique to any particular profession or occupation. The tire casts of the tire tread impressions were examined and photographs of these impressions were kept for future reference.
The fibers which were removed from the items in this case were also examined, and this evidence would provide the first important lead in the case. Eventually, it would prove to be the most critical evidence of the entire case. The equipment used for the fiber examinations consisted of a stereoscopic microscope, a comparison microscope, a polarized light microscope, a microspectrophotometer, a melting point apparatus, and eventually, an infrared spectrophotometer.
A single lustrous red trilobal nylon fiber was found on a piece of fabric found near the victim. Because of the size, type, and cross sectional shape of this fiber (see fig. 1), it was determined that this fiber was probably a carpet fiber. Because the body had been exposed to the elements for a substantial period of time, and fibers which have been transferred are very transient in nature,2 it was surmised that most of the carpet fibers which had originally been transferred to the victim's body had been lost. Since the victim's body was found in a remote area; she had probably been transported in a vehicle, and the carpeting of this vehicle is probably the last item she had been in contact with.
Furthermore, since there is normally a transferrence of trace materials (i.e.,fibers) when two objects come into close contact,3 it was also surmised that the killer was probably driving a vehicle with a red carpet. Vehicular carpets readily shed their fibers, and these types of fibers are commonly found on the bodies of victims at crime scenes. These fibers could then provide a critical "link" in determining whether a serial murderer was operating in the Tampa Bay area.4
The above information was provided to the HCSO, with the caution that the fiber information should be kept confidential. Experience has shown that if the existence of fiber evidence is publicized, serial killers might change their pattern and start disposing of the bodies in such a manner that this fiber evidence is either lost or destroyed. The most famous example of this is the Wayne Williams case.5 The possibility also existed that if the killer knew of the existence of the red carpet fibers, he would probably get rid of the vehicle that was the source of this evidence.
Two weeks later, on May 27, 1984, at approximately 11:30 a.m., the body of a young white female was discovered in an isolated area of eastern Hillsborough County. The victim was found nude, with clothing near the body. The victim was on her back, with her hands bound at the waist and a ligature around the neck. Her throat had been cut, and she had sustained multiple blunt trauma injuries to the head. The victim had been at the scene for approximately 8 to 10 hours.
The victim's hands were bound to her sides with a clothesline type of rope. The ligature at the neck was made of the same type of rope and was tied in a type of hangman's noose. There was a 3- to 4-foot length of rope extending from the noose. The victim also had what appeared to be a green man's T-shirt binding her upper arms. Hair and fiber evidence were collected from the victim's body.
Several tire tread impressions were located in a dirt roadway that passed approximately 8 feet from the victim's body. These impressions appeared to have been caused by a vehicle turning around in the area next to the victim's location.
The responding homicide detectives believed this homicide was related to the Long case. Since the victim was unidentified, a composite drawing of the victim was made and released to the media. It was through this effort that the victim was identified as Michelle Denise Simms, 22 years old and a native of California. She was last seen the previous night talking with two white males near Kennedy Boulevard in an area that is popular for working prostitutes. Simms had previously worked as a prostitute.
The evidence collected from where Simms was found was immediately flown to the FBI Laboratory. Since this had been a "fresh" site, the chances of recovering significant evidence would be tremendously improved. The tire casts were examined and one of the impressions from the right rear area was identified as being from a Goodyear Viva tire, with the white wall facing inward. The tire impression from the left rear area could not be immediately identified, as it was not in the FBI Laboratory reference files. However, the HCSO was provided with the name of an individual in Akron, OH, who was a tire expert, and the tire casts were flown to Akron, where the tire impression was identified as being made by a Vogue tire, an expensive tire that comes only on Cadillacs. A Vogue tire was obtained and photographed in detail.
The fibers removed from the evidence revealed red lustrous trilobal nylon fibers, which matched the Lana Long fiber. In addition, a second type of fiber, a red trilobal delustered fiber, was found, indicating that the killer was driving a vehicle containing two different types of carpet fibers.
Grouping tests conducted on semen stains identified on the clothing of Michelle Simms disclosed the presence of the "B" and "H" blood group substances.
The hairs from the body and clothing of Michelle Simms were examined. Brown, medium-length Caucasian head hairs were found that could have originated from the killer. Human bair is valuable evidence, and in addition to providing information on race, body area, artificial treatment, or other unusual characteristics,6 it can be strongly associated with a particular individual when matched with a known hair sample from the individual.7 With this information, the HCSO was able to build a "physical evidence" profile of the killer, which was distributed to other law enforcement agencies; however, the information on the carpet fibers and cordage was kept confidential.
On June 24,1984, the body of another young white female was found, the third victim in this series of homicides, although this would not be known for a few months. The victim was found in an orange grove in southeastern Hillsborough County. The victim was found fully clothed, and the body was in an advanced stage of decomposition. The total body weight of the victim, including her clothes, was only 25 pounds. There were no ligatures present, and the victim was not found near an interstate as the first two victims had been. During the initial stages of the investigation, the victim's boyfriend failed a polygraph examination and appeared to be an excellent suspect. Evidence from the case was sent to the FBI Laboratory; however, no request was made for this evidence to be compared to the evidence from the previous two homicide until much later.
The victim was identified as Elizabeth B. Loudenback, 22, of Tampa. Loudenback was employed as an assembly line worker and was last seen at approximately 7:00 p.m. on June 8,1984. She was known to frequent the area of Nebraska Avenue and Skipper Road in northern Hillsborough County, but had no criminal history.
The hairs from the Loudenback case were examined with negative results. Serology examinations were also negative due to the extensive decomposition of the body. The fibers, examined later, were determined to be both types of the red carpet fibers evidenced in the two previous cases. If this examination had been done initially, it would have been immediately known that Loudenback was, in fact, the third victim. When the evidence arrived at the FBI Laboratory, it was not assigned to the examiner who had worked the first two homicides. One of the most important aspects of handling a serial murder investigation is to have the same crime scene technician at all crime scenes and the same forensic examiners at the laboratory, so that one individual can become totally familiar with the forensic portion of the investigation, in order to recognize patterns and associations which might be present.
On October 7, 1984, the nude body of a young black female was discovered near the Pasco/Hilisborough County line, lying next to the dirt entrance road of a cattle ranch. The victim's clothing, except for her bra, was found next to the body. The bra had been tied in a knot and was found hanging from the entrance gate. The head area was in an advanced state of decomposition, much more so than the remainder of the body. The autopsy revealed a puncture wound to the back of the neck, but a gunshot wound to the neck was the cause of death.
The victim was identified as Chanel Devon Williams, an 18-year-old black female. The victim had been previously arrested for prostitution. She was known to frequent a gay bar on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. She had been last seen on the night of September 30,1984, by another prostitute with whom she had been working. The pair were working the area of Nebraska Avenue when Williams' companion was solicited by a "john." They were approximately two-tenths of a mile from the motel where they were conducting their "business." Williams' companion rode back to the motel in the "john's" car, and Williams was instructed to slowly walk back to the motel in order to check on her companion. Williams never made it back to the motel.
The homicide detectives who responded to the place Williams was found began looking for similarities to the previous homicides. Other than the fact that the victim was found nude in a rural area and that Williams was a prostitute, there were no other apparent similarities.
At this point in the investigation, the HCSO requested a criminal personality profile be done by the FBI8 on the Long, Simms, and Williams cases, and one other homicide in which another female had been shot. A profile was returned (see figure 2), indicating strong similarities between the Long case and the Simms case. However, due to various differences (race, lack of ligatures, and cause of death), it was believed that the Williams case and the other above-mentioned case were not related.
The evidence from the Williams case was sent to the FBI Laboratory a second time, and both types of the red nylon carpet fibers were found on various articles of her clothing. A brown Caucasian pubic hair, which would ultimately be associated with Robert Long, was also discovered on the victim's sweater. Grouping tests conducted on semen stains identified on Williams' clothing disclosed the presence of the "A" and "H" blood group substances. This was inconsistent with the grouping results found in the Simms case; however, this could be due to their working as prostitutes.
On the morning of October 14, 1984, the body of a white female, nude from the waist down, was discovered in an unpopulated area of northeastern Hillsborough County. The body was found in an orange grove approximately 30 feet from a dirt road, apparently dragged from the roadway. The body had been placed on a gold-colored bedspread, and a blue jogging suit was tied outside the blanket. The bedspread had been tied at both ends with common white string. The victim's hands were bound in front with a red and white handkerchief. Her right wrist and legs were bound with another white string. The victim's feet were bound with a draw string, and there were ligature marks on the victim's throat. She had been struck on the forehead and strangled.
The victim was identified as Karen Beth Dinsfriend, a 28-year-old cocaine user and prostitute. Dinsfriend had been working the area of Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues and was last seen during the early morning hours of October 14,1984.
Upon arriving at the scene, the detectives strongly suspected that Dinsfriend's death was related to the previous homicides. The ligatures were almost a "signature" of the offender. Red fibers were found when the body was examined at the medical examiner's office.
By this time, all homicide detectives of the HCSO were assigned to the case. Other assaults, suicides, and unrelated homicides were assigned to property detectives. Six tactical deputies were assigned to do night surveillance in the suspect's "hunting grounds," the area of Nebraska Avenue and West Kennedy Boulevard in North Tampa. The patrol divisions were again given alerts and were continually sending in field interrogation reports (FIR), which were checked. A personal computer was purchased specifically for this investigation and was used to record information on vehicles, vehicular tags, information gathered from talking to prostitutes, and information derived from the FIRs. At this point, the HCSO again went "public" to warn the community about these related homicides. However, the fiber information was kept confidential.
The evidence from the Dinsfriend disposal site was sent directly to the FBI Laboratory, and it yielded valuable evidence. The knots in the ligatures were similar to the knots from the previous cases; a brown Caucasian pubic hair, eventually associated with Robert Long, was found on the bedspread; and semen was found on the bedspread and sweat shirt and tests again disclosed the "A" and "H" blood group substances. The bedspread was tested and found to be composed of gold delustered acrylic fibers. These fibers would also provide a link to Long's vehicle.
Both types of red nylon carpet fibers were again found on most of the items and were microscopically compared to the previous carpet fibers. The color produced by the dyes from the red carpet fibers was also compared using the microspectrophotometer. The microspectrophotometer is one of the most discriminating techniques which can be used in the comparison of fibers.9 Since these carpet fibers both microscopically and optically matched the red carpet fibers from the previous five cases, it was strongly believed that all of these fibers were consistent with having originated from the same source, and therefore, all of the cases were related.
On October 30,1984, the nude mummified remains of a white female were discovered near Highway 301 in northern Hillsborough County just south of the Pasco County line. No clothing, ligatures, or any other type of physical evidence were found at the scene. Due to the amount of time the body was exposed to the elements and the fact that the victim was nude, no foreign hairs, fibers, semen, or any other type of evidence were discovered. This victim would not be identified until after the arrest of the suspect, Robert Long, who referred to the victim by her street name, "Sugar." Using this information, the HCSO was able to identify the victim as Kimberly Kyle Hopps, a 22-year-old white female, last seen by her boyfriend getting into a 1977-78 maroon Chrysler Cordoba. Hopps would eventually be associated with Long's vehicle through a comparison of her head hairs with hairs found in his vehicle.
On November 6,1984, the remains of a female were discovered near Morris Bridge Road in Pasco County just north of the Hillsborough County Line. The bones of the victim were scattered about a large area; however, a ligature was found. Another ligature was discovered on an arm bone. A shirt, a pair of panties, and some jewelry were also found. Human head hairs, presumed to be from the victim, were also recovered.
On learning of the discovery of this body, the Hilisborough homicide detectives met with the Pasco County detectives, and because of the ligatures, believed that this case was related to their homicides. The two agencies worked together to identify the victim, Virginia Lee Johnson, an 18-year-old white female originally from Connecticut. It was learned that she split her time between Connecticut and the North Tampa area, working as a prostitute in the North Nebraska Avenue area in Hillsborough County.
The evidence from the Johnson site was sent by the HCSO to the FBI Laboratory. Again, due to the extensive decomposition, the body yielded very little physical evidence; however, in the victim's head hair from the crime scene a single red lustrous carpet fiber was found, relating this case to the others. Eventually, Virginia Johnson would also be associated with Robert Long's vehicle through a transfer of her head hairs.
On November 24,1984, the nude body of a young white female was found on an incline off of North Orient Road in the City of Tampa, involving yet a third jurisdiction in the homicides. The victim had been at the scene less than 24 hours. A wadded pair of blue jeans and a blue flowered top were near the body. The victim was wearing knee high nylons; the body was face down with the head at the lower portion of the incline. Faint tire impressions were observed in the grass next to the roadway, and a piece of wood with possible tire impressions was found. It appeared that the killer had pulled off the road and had thrown the body over the edge and onto the incline. Examination of the body revealed that fecal matter was present on the inside of the victim's legs and on the exterior of the clothing. The body had a pronounced ligature mark on the front portion of the neck. There were also ligature marks on both wrists and on both arms; however, no ligatures were found.
This victim was identified as Kim Marie Swann, a 21-year-old female narcotics user, who worked as a nude dancer. She was last seen walking out of a convenience store near her parent's home at approximately 3:00 p.m. on November 11,1984.
When the Tampa Police Department responded and noted the ligature marks on the victim, they immediately called the HCSO and requested that they also respond. This homicide was also believed to be related to the previous seven homicides.
The evidence from the Swann disposal site was sent to the FBI Laboratory. The tire tread impressions on the board bore limited design similarities to the tire impressions from the Lana Long and Michelle Simms homicides. Again, red nylon carpet fibers were found on the victim's clothing. The head hair of the victim was examined and would eventually be associated with the suspect's vehicle.
Even though the three jurisdictions now directly involved in the eight homicides continued to work separately on their own cases, there was continual exchange of information among these agencies, which enabled the HCSO to learn that the Tampa Police Department sex crimes detectives were working an abduction and rape of a 17-year-old white female. This exchange of information would ultimately lead to the big "break" in the case, a case which had completely captivated the attention of the Tampa Bay area and one which was beginning to attract national attention as well.
On November 3,1984, a young girl, Lisa McVey, was leaving a doughnut shop in northern Tampa when she was abducted. The offender took her to an unknown apartment and sexually assaulted her for 26 hours before releasing her. The HCSO urged the Tampa Police Department to send their rape evidence to the FBI Laboratory, and on November 13,1984, the FBI Laboratory called with the biggest break yet in the serial murder case; they found the same red fibers on McVey's clothes as had been found on the homicide victims.
After the rape case had been linked to the murders, a task force was formed the next day, consisting of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Tampa Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The rape victim, McVey, was extensively interviewed and recalled that after leaving the apartment where she was held, the suspect stopped at a "24-hour teller machine" to withdraw some money at approximately 3:00 a.m. She described the suspect's vehicle as being red with a red interior and red carpet, with the word "Magnum" on the dash. Enroute to the release site, the victim recalled peeking out from under the blindfold and seeing a Howard Johnson's motel as they drove up on the interstate.
At this time, there were approximately 30 officers assigned to the task force. They immediately flooded the North Tampa area searching for the apartment and vehicle (only a 1978 Dodge Magnum has the word "Magnum" on the dash). A task force member was flown to the State capital and returned with a list of every Dodge Magnum registered in Hillsborough County. An examination of the computer printout of these registrations revealed Robert Joe Long's name as a listed owner of a Dodge Magnum.
Each team of detectives was assigned certain areas to search, and as one team drove to their area, they noticed a red Dodge Magnum driving down Nebraska Avenue in North Tampa. The vehicle was stopped, and the driver was told that they were looking for a robbery suspect. The driver, identified as Robert Joe Long, was photographed and a field interrogation report was written.
During the same time period, bank records for all bank machines in North Tampa were being subpoenaed. These bank records revealed that Robert Long had used the 24-hour teller machine close to his apartment at approximately 3:00 a.m. on the morning the rape victim was released. The rape victim identified Long as her assailant from a photo selection. Based on McVey's statements, both an arrest warrant and a search warrant were drawn up and approved by a circuit court judge.
Robert Long was located at his apartment approximately 2 hours after being stopped by the task force members. They began a 24-hour surveillance of Long, also using aircraft to minimize the chances that Long would spot the surveillance teams.
The task force then consulted the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy for guidelines to use when interviewing the suspect. A Special Agent from the FBI Laboratory in Washington was flown to Tampa for an immediate comparison of fibers from the suspect's apartment and vehicle and to assist in the crime scene searches. An aircraft was standing by so that after the arrest this Agent could be flown immediately to the closest FDLE laboratory which had the special microscope required for comparison of the fiber samples.
The following teams were organized from the task force:
1) Arrest team selected to physically arrest Long. Two of these officers were selected to interview Long at the office after the arrest.
2) Search and seizure team for the vehicle,
3) Search team for the residence, and
4) Neighborhood survey team to interview Long's neighbors in his apartment complex after the arrest and before any information was released to the media.
After all task force teams were at their assigned locations, the signal to effect the arrest was given. By this time, Long was in a movie theater; as Long walked out of the theater, he was arrested. This arrest occurred only 36 hours after the task force was formed.
Long was returned to his apartment where approximately 10 to 15 detectives were waiting. In this jurisdiction (Hillsborough County), it is preferred to serve a search warrant while the owner of the property is there to witness the search. In this case, an embarrassed Long refused to exit the police vehicle and witness the search. Long was then taken to the HCSO operations center for interrogation. The interview was begun after the interviewing officers had consulted with the FBI Agent present who had prepared the criminal personality profile. The Agent advised that this suspect would most likely cooperate if the officers displayed both their authority and a thorough knowledge of the case.
The officers opened the interview by carefully talking only about the McVey rape and abduction until the suspect confessed to the McVey case. Then, the detectives began going into the other homicide cases. Long denied any involvement in the homicides initially.
Meanwhile, the suspect's vehicle had been brought to the Sheriff's office where it was being searched. The vehicle was found to have the Vogue tire and the Goodyear Viva tire, all with the white wall inverted and in the exact location on the vehicle as had been suspected. A sample of the carpet was removed from the vehicle, and the FBI fiber expert was immediately flown with this sample and previous fiber samples to the FDLE lab in Sanford, FL, which had a comparison microscope. A short time later, the Agent telephoned the HCSO confirming that the fibers from Long's vehicle matched the red carpet fibers found previously on the victims. Long continued to deny committing the murders until the fibers were matched. The interviewing detectives then explained the physical evidence to the suspect. They also explained the significance of the matched fibers and what other comparisons would be done i.e., hair, blood, etc. At this time, the suspect confessed.
The suspect gave a brief description of each homicide. He admitted killing Loudenback (victim #3) and using her money card. In each case, Long had talked the victims into his vehicle, immediately gaining control of them with a knife and gun. He then bound them and took them to various areas where he sexually assaulted and then murdered them. The suspect also drew a map showing where he had placed victim number nine. This victim had been abducted from the City of Tampa during an earlier part of the investigation, and the Tampa Police Department had informed the HCSO of this fact. They believed she fit the "victim profile" but she remained missing until Long told them where to find the body.10
Eventually, a total of 10 homicides which had occurred in and around the Tampa Bay area over a period of approximately 8 months were attributed to Long ( seefigure 3). The victims ranged from 18 to 28 years in age, and the majority of the victims were prostitutes. Most victims were strangled and/or asphyxiated; however, one was shot and one died of a cut throat.
Several weeks after the arrest of Long, a conference was held at the HCSO, attended by law enforcement agencies from throughout the State of Florida. The entire case was presented, and as a result, numerous rapes were cleared in the Miami area. The Public Defender's Office had attempted to obtain an injunction to prevent dissemination of information about the Long cases, but this obstacle was overcome by having this conference limited to law enforcement personnel only.
This case is a classic example of the success that can be achieved when law enforcement agencies cooperate. The following are critical areas of the investigation and how they were handled.
News Media-In the past the HCSO bureau commander handled the initial press release to the media regarding the homicides. A sergeant from another bureau was selected as a public information officer for the investigation, thus taking the burden off the bureau commander and allowing for the proper supervision of the case. In the majority of these cases, the victims were unidentified, so the HCSO released a composite and physical description to the local media. Each call from the public was logged in as a "lead," and these leads were assigned to the detectives to resolve. It was through this method that the majority of the victims were identified.
Evidence Collection and Control-The identification, collection, and preservation of physical evidence was very crucial in these cases. After the first homicide, two detectives were designated to work each scene and collect the evidence, providing a tracking of the physical evidence in each case.
Laboratory Services-The participation of the FBI Laboratory was the key ingredient to the successful conclusion of this case. Again, continuity was obtained because all the evidence went to the same laboratory. In addition, the lab became closely involved in the case; HCSO supervisors and detectives flew to Washington, DC to present the evidence from each case to the forensic experts. There was a continued dialogue and exchange of information between the HCSO and the FBI Laboratory about the physical evidence.
Task Force-An immediate advantage enjoyed by the HCSO was that the majority of the cases were in HCSO jurisdiction. When it came time for the task force to be formed, there was no question that the HCSO would be in charge. However, the task force commander had to take into account the different agencies and had to be able to blend their various responsibilities. It was decided to have one HCSO detective and one TPD detective pair up and be responsible for certain investigative tasks. The interview team consisted of one officer from each agency, thus the other agencies couldn't complain that they weren't involved. The personnel selected for the task force were all homicide and/or sex crime detectives experienced in these types of investigations. The one problem with this format was that "other homicides" and "persons" crimes continued, so that property detectives were handling the other "persons" crimes, since all homicide detectives were devoted to the task force.
Agency Commitment-An investigation of this magnitude cannot be successfully concluded without the total commitment of the agency and support of the chief executive. This commitment was given by the HCSO immediately after the first homicide, and with this commitment, the Homicide Bureau, and later the task force, had the entire resources of the HCSO and the TPD at their disposal. Examples of the commitment were assignment of aircraft for surveillance, reassignment of property detectives to other homicides, purchase of personal computers to catalogue all leads and suspects, and use of undercover personnel to observe the suspect after he was identified. In addition, detectives were allowed to travel throughout the State of Florida and the United States to trace leads; there was mobilization of auxiliary personnel, realignment of patrol personnel to provide surveillance of the interstate system, and reassignment of the Selective Enforcement Unit to the Detective Division for the duration of the investigation.
As a result of laboratory examinations, numerous associations were made between the various crime scenes, the suspect, the victims, and the suspect's vehicle. ( seefigure 4) The probative value of these associations was explained to the prosecutors from the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office and the Pasco County State Attorney's Office. The importance of the fiber evidence was apparent from the beginning, as 8 of the 10 victims were associated with Long's vehicle through fiber comparisons. The importance of the hair evidence also began to emerge as all of the forensic examinations were completed. Six of the victims were associated to Long's vehicle through hair transfers, even though Long had thoroughly vacuumed his Dodge Magnum the day before he was arrested. Two of the 10 victims were associated directly to Long by transfer of his hairs to these victims. The signifigance of the ligatures and knots should not be overlooked as these provided a valuable link between cases. The tire tread evidence provided many leads and would associate Long's vehicle directly to the crime scene in two of the cases. The importance of the criminal personality profile should also be noted. ( seefigure 5) In addition to providing valuable leads, it can also "guide" a case. It cannot, however, take the place of a thorough and competent investigation.
The first trial of Robert Long was held in Dade City, FL (Pasco County) on April 22,1985. This was the trial for the murder of Virginia Johnson. The strongest evidence presented at this trial was the hair and fiber associations, as well as the confession of Long. The trial lasted a week and received a great deal of media coverage. Long was found guilty of the murder of Virginia Johnson and was sentenced to die in the electric chair.
It was decided that the first case that would be tried in Hillsborough County would be the Michelle Simms case. This case was picked due to the brutal nature in which she had been killed and the fact that it contained the strongest forensic evidence. The second case to be tried would be the Karen Dinsfriend case. As a result of discussions between the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office and the Public Defender's Office of Hillsborough County, a plea bargain was agreed upon for eight of the homicides and the abduction and rape of Lisa McVey. Long pled guilty on September 24, 1985, to all of these crimes, receiving 26 life sentences (24 concurrent and 2 to run consecutively to the first 24) and 7 life sentences (no parole for 25 years). In addition, the State retained the option to seek the death penalty for the murder of Michelle Simms. In July of 1986, the penalty phase of the Michelle Simms trial was held in Tampa. It lasted 1 week and again received great media attention. Long was found guilty and was again sentenced to die in Florida's electric chair.
1. Ropes and cordages were found in 7 of the 10 homicides cases. All of these were compared with another. Even though cordages found in one case were sometimes found to be of the same type, there were no instances in which cordages from two or more different cases were found to be similar. However, these cordages and knots did provide a "link" in the patterns which would associate these cases together.
2. C.A. Pounds and K.W. Smalldon, "The Transfer of fibers between clothing materials during simulated contacts and their persistence during wear," Journal of the Forensic Science Society, vol.15,1975, pp.29-37.
3. This is known as the "Exchange Principle of Locard" and was first published in Edmond Locard in 1928.
4. One of the major problems in investigating a serial murder case is determining whether the murders are related. In cases where a vehicle is used, fiber evidence is probably the best type of evidence to provide this "link." Therefore, these types of cases should be examined by a laboratory with a well-equipped hair and fiber facility.
5. Harold A. Deadman, "Fiber Evidence and the Wayne Williams Trial," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, vol.53, Nos. 3 and 5, (Part I) March 1984, pp.12-20; (Conclusion) May 1984, pp. 10-19.
6. "Microscopy of Hairs," FBI Laboratory Technical Supplement, Issue 2, January 1977.
7. B.D. Gaudette and E.S. Keeping, "An Attempt at Determining Probabilities in Human Scalp Hair Comparison," Journal of Forensic Science, July 1974. pp.599-606; D. Gaudette, "Probabilities and Human Pubic Hair comparisons," Journal of Forensic Science, July 1975, pp. 514-517; Preliminary Report, Committee on Forensic Hair Comparison, Crime Laboratory Digest, July 1985, pp. 50-59.
8. A request for a criminal personality profile can be made by any duly authorized law enforcement agency through any of the FBI's 59 field offices. Each of these offices has an Agent who is specifically trained by tne Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI Academy to provide this service. A profile can be an extremely valuable tool; however, it is intended to be a supplement and not a substitute for a thorough and extensive criminal investigation.
9. Suchenwirth, "On the Value as Evidence of Micro-Spectral Photometric Measurements of Traces of Textile Fibers." Archive for Criminology, vol.142, Nos. 1 and 2, 1968; R. Macrae, R.J. Dudley, and K.W. Smalldon, "The Characterization of Dyestuffs on Wool Fibers with Special Reference to Microspectrophotometry," Journal of Forensic Science, vol.24, No. 1, 1979, pp.117-129; K.K. Laing and M.D.1. Isaacs, "The Examination of Paints and Fibers by Microspectrophotometry," Home Office Central Research Establishment Report Number 359, British Crown Copyright, 1980.
10. In view of the fact that the final two victims in this case, Vicky Elliot and Artis Wick, were not found until after the arrest of Robert Long, they will not be covered extensively in this article.
This article is reprinted from the November and December, 1987 issues of the FBI's Law Enforcement Bulletin.
LONG, Robert Jo (W/M)
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Case# 84-13346-B
Sentencing Judge, Trial: The Honorable John P. Griffin
Sentencing Judge, Resentencing: The Honorable Richard A. Lazzara
Attorney, Trial: Charles O’Connor – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Resentencing: Robert Fraser – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, First Direct Appeal: Ellis Rubin and David Rappaport – Private
Attorney, Second Direct Appeal: A. Anne Owens – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Byron P. Hileman – Registry
Date of Offense: 05/27/84
Date of Sentence: 07/25/86
Date of Resentence:07/21/89
Circumstances of the Offense:
On 05/27/84, Robert Long sexually battered and murdered Michelle Simms.
On 11/16/84, Long was arrested and charged for the kidnapping and sexual battery of Lisa McVey. In a confession obtained on that date, Long gave the following account of the events that preceded Michelle Simms’ death. Long bought some rope the night before the murder and cut it into sections before it was put in his vehicle’s glove box. Long then went looking for a prostitute along Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. Long then stopped next to the victim and obtained her company for $50. After the victim entered the car, Long drove approximately one mile before making the victim undress at knife point and reclined the passenger’s seat until it was flat before he tied her up. Long stated that he then drove approximately 15-20 miles before he raped the victim. Long then talked to the victim and told her that he was going to drop her off where he picked her up. Instead, Long drove to Plant City where he attempted to strangle the victim. When that failed, he hit her head with a club and pushed her from the vehicle. Long left her on the side of the road after he slit her throat. Long discarded the victim’s clothing at the scene of the murder.
The nude body of Michelle Simms was discovered on 05/27/84, in a wooded area near Plant City, Florida. A rope was tied around the victim’s wrists and around her body to restrict the movement of her hands and her clothing was scattered in the surrounding area. The victim’s throat was cut, there was blood on her face and head and the victim also suffered from rope burns on her neck and chin. The medical examiner stated that the cause of death could have been either strangulation, bleeding from two knife slashes in her neck, or head injuries
Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:
Long confessed to eight other murders and was convicted of sexual battery in numerous other cases where the victim was not murdered.
11/28/84 Indicted as follows:
Count I: Kidnapping
Count II: Sexual Battery
Count III: First-Degree Murder
09/23/85 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
07/18/86 Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1
07/25/86 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: Kidnapping – Life
Count II: Sexual Battery – Life
Count III: First-Degree Murder – Death
06/30/88 FSC remanded case for resentencing as to Count III
06/29/89 Jury recommended death by a vote of 12-0
07/21/89 Sentenced as follows:
Count III: First-Degree Murder – Death Case Information:
During the trial, testimony was presented stating that Long had suffered from a series of the following head injuries: he had been knocked unconscious for several minutes as a result from falling off of a swing; he had been knocked unconscious for approximately 20 minutes as a result of falling down a flight of stairs; he had been hospitalized for approximately one week as a result of being hit by a car at age seven; he had been knocked unconscious as a result of falling off of a horse; he had been in a serious motorcycle accident at age 20 while enlisted in the army in which he had suffered serious head injuries.
A Direct Appeal was filed to the Florida Supreme Court on 09/02/86. Issues that were raised on Direct Appeal included whether the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to vacate his plea agreement and whether the use of prior convictions, which were later vacated by the Court, unfairly prejudiced the sentencing proceedings. The Court agreed that the use of the prior convictions as aggravating factors was harmful error and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for resentencing on 06/30/88.
A second Direct Appeal was filed to the Florida Supreme Court on 08/03/89. Issues that were raised on appeal included whether the trial court erred in denying Long’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas and whether the trial court erred in allowing the hearsay testimony of two detectives regarding the details of the two other rapes as crimes of violence in aggravation. The Court found all of the issues either harmless or without error and affirmed the conviction and the death sentence on 10/15/92. A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed to the United States Supreme Court on 04/26/93 and denied on 10/04/93.
A 3.850 Motion was filed to the Circuit Court on 12/29/94, which was denied on 08/01/95. A 3.850 Appeal was filed to the Florida Supreme Court on 09/11/95 and was dismissed without prejudice at the request on the defendant on 03/18/96 so that an amended 3.850 could be filed; that 3.850 was filed on 10/04/95 to the Florida Supreme Court and is currently pending.
Bobby Joe Long
Bobby Joe Long, a distant cousin of Henry Lee Lucas, viciously raped and murdered at least nine women from May 1984 to November 1984 in Tampa, Florida. He was sentenced to death for raping fifty women and killing nine. Bobby Joe Long was born October 14, 1953, in Kenova, West Virginia.
While he was quite young his mother left his father and took Bobby Joe to Tampa, Florida. They moved around Tampa frequently, staying with relatives or in rented rooms. He and his mother slept in the same bed until he was 13. His mother tended to be overly protective and dramatic, but still Bobby Joe Long managed to suffer a series of severe head injuries beginning at age five, when he was knocked unconscious in a fall from a swing and had one eyelid skewered by a stick.
At 6 he was thrown from his bicycle, crashing headfirst into a parked car, with injuries including loss of several teeth and a severe concussion. At age 7, he fell from a pony onto his head and remained dizzy and nauseous for several weeks. He also seemed to have gotten into countless fist fights with relatives and classmates.
Bobby Joe Long was born with a truly unusual condition known as Klinefelter's syndrome which meant he had an extra X (female) chromosome causing higher amounts of the female hormone estrogen in his system. His breasts grew during puberty, which caused him great embarrassment.
At 13 Bobby Joe Long met Cindy and finally began sleeping in a separate bed from his mother. They dated for 6 years before marrying in 1974. He was in the army then, stationed at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. Things went well until a serious motorcycle accident in which he suffered another serious head injury and came close to losing a leg. He claimed that after this accident he became hypersexual.
His growing and desperate sexual needs seemed to consume him. Shortly after his release from hospital Long devised the idea of using the classified ads in the newspaper to locate women, arrive at their houses and rape them. He had lots of time now that he was unemployed and discharged from the army. Cindy never even suspected what he was up to but they did end up divorced.
Between 1980 and 1983, Long terrorized the Florida communities of Miami, Ocala and Fort Lauderdale as the "Classified Ad Rapist," preying on housewives in mid-day attacks. Dropping by while their husbands were working, Bobby Joe Long typically produced a knife, bound his victims, raped them violently, and robbed their homes before he fled.
In October 1981, Sharon Richards, who shared a house with Bobby Joe Long, accused him of rape, but the police did not have enough evidence to make a charge. Just two weeks later, Bobby Joe hit Sharon during an argument. He then took a leave of absence from Tampa and went to stay with his parents in West Virginia, returning to Tampa in June 1983.
In July 1983, Bobby Joe met Emma at the Humana Hospital where he worked as an X-ray technologist and she as a nurse. They soon became a couple. Emma encouraged him to attend church. He in turn gave her jewelry that, unbeknownst to Emma, were stolen from his rape victims. She never questioned him about how he was able to afford these expensive gifts.
Then in September 1983, he was found guilty on the assault charges stemming from the 1981 incident. This enraged Bobby Joe and he wrote numerous letters to the judge, demanding a new trial. He claimed he had done nothing criminal and that the whole incident had been Richards' fault.
In November 1983, Bobby Joe Long was charged with sending an obscene letter and photographs to a twelve year old girl in Tampa. Officials had traced phone calls Long had made to the 12 year old and Long received a sentence of two days in jail and six months' probation.
In early 1984, Bobby Joe Long got his retrial in the Sharon Richards case and was acquitted of the assault charges, despite the testimony of a number of witnesses against him. As he left the courtroom he turned and laughed at her.
n March 27, 1984, Bobby Joe Long raped 20 year-old Artis Wick in Tampa. Unsatisfied, with just rape, he strangled her to death. The serial rapist escalated to serial killer.
Between May and November 1984, Bobby Joe Long strangled, stabbed and shot at least nine victims, with a tenth suspected but never charged against him. In early November, he abducted a 17-year-old girl off the street and raped her, then her life when she described acts of incest performed by her father. Two days later he raped and killed one last victim, before being arrested and charged. The girl who had been spared was able to describe him and his car to police.
The First Body
A couple of teenage boys walking in the early evening across a field near I-75, southeast of Tampa, Florida, noticed a bad smell in the air. They went closer to investigate the construction area from which it emanated and realized that the blackened thing in the weeds they were looking at was not a deer or cow but the mangled remains of a nude woman. They ran to find their parents. Anna Flowers offers the details of what happened next in her book, Bound to Die.
It was Mother's Day, May 13, 1984. The body, estimated to have lain in that spot for three days, was infested with maggots, especially around the face, which made identification difficult. She was found face down, her wrists tied together loosely behind her back around eight inches apart, and a noose draped three times around her neck. It appeared to have been used as a leash, with a hangman's slipknot. The Florida sun and insects had done their damage.
Capt. Gary Terry and Detective Lee Baker from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) came to the scene. They examined the remains and saw from severe bruising that prior to her death the victim had been severely beaten. Oddly, the rope tying her wrists was different from the rope around her neck. A white silk cloth found under the victim's face apparently was used as a gag. And there was more: The young woman's hips had been rudely broken to allow both of her legs to be pulled out at right angles to her body - a pose apparently meant for shock value. It seemed likely that she had been raped, but that was for the autopsy to determine, if possible.
At the scene, investigators soon found a set of tire tracks that led into and out of the field. They cast plaster tire impressions and noted that the front and rear right tires had a standard tread design while the left rear tire had an unusual tread design. That could be helpful in the apprehension of the offender.
Medical examiner Charles Digg performed the autopsy and stated the cause of death as best he could tell as strangulation. He confirmed that the victim had been raped. It was difficult to tell her race or age, but he thought she might have been Asian.
In a move that was unusual for him, Capt. Terry contacted special agent Michael P. Malone, a fiber analyst at the FBI lab, who agreed to examine the evidence. Malone located a red trilobal nylon fiber on the scarf and concluded that it was probably from a type of cheap carpeting used in an automobile - perhaps the one that had transported the victim to the dump site.
This incident did not get much press. Bernie Ward says in his book, In the Mind of a Monster , that it was buried on page 9B of the Tampa Tribune.
A missing persons report on a young Asian female, filed by John Corcoran, appeared to match the victim's physical features. As DNA was not yet in use, her fingerprints were utilized to affirm her identity as Ngeun Thi Long, also known as Lana Long (Ward also calls her Peggy). She was 20 years old and had worked as a dancer at the Sly Fox Lounge in Tampa .
Investigators discovered that she was a drug addict. She had also been trying to raise money to return to her family in California. They assumed that she may have been asking men who liked watching her to give her money and had met the wrong person at the wrong time. In addition, because she had no car, she often looked for rides. Long was last seen leaving a bar called CC's.
Her boyfriend was briefly a suspect, but his alibi checked out. At this point, Lana Long was just one of a number of unfortunate girls getting murdered in the Tampa area. No one thought much about it, but within two weeks, her status had changed.
The psychology of a serial killer
A construction worker came across another female body on May 27, 1984 , in a lover's lane near Plant City north of I-4 in Hillsborough County. Officials from HCSO arrived to examine the scene, and they soon realized this one was oddly familiar.
The mostly nude woman was on her back, clad in a green T-shirt which had been ripped up the front and pulled back, leaving her arms in the sleeves to bind them. Her wrists had been tied behind her back (also loosely), and once again a rope had been wound three times around her neck. Like the crime two weeks earlier, the ropes used to bind her and to strangle her were different types. The leash-like rope around the neck had been partially cut by a knife, possibly with the same weapon used to cut her neck and cheeks. Among her most serious wounds was a wide slicing cut to the neck almost a foot long that had severed a large blood vessel, and she had a massive blunt trauma injury over her left ear.
So she was stabbed, strangled, and beaten to death. Whoever had done this was shockingly brutal.
While this victim wore next to nothing, a bloodstained white jumper and white pantyhose were found hanging from a tree limb and were assumed to have been hers. There were also trace items of note: on the victim's body was a reddish fiber, lying near her left breast, as well as several strands of hair on her stomach and under her right hand. These had to be analyzed along with whatever was under her fingernails.
Prints were evident at the scene: tire tracks and even a barefoot print found in mud. Plaster casts were made of all of these impressions, one of which contained a clear "V" along with more indistinct letters.
This time they had found the victim more quickly: She was estimated to have been dead for about 12 hours. The autopsy revealed that her skull had received five brutal blows and that she had been strangled at or near the time of death. She also had been raped. The official cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation and severe head injuries.
Ward describes the news item that accompanied a composite drawing of this Jane Doe, offering identifiers such as being in her late teens, 5-foot 5-inches tall, 119 pounds, with dark brown hair and eyes. The faster they IDed her, the better it would be for their investigation.
She turned out to be a prostitute. The victim was identified by another girl working the streets as Michelle Denise Simms, a 22-year-old with a drug habit. Having been in the city only two days, she was last seen talking to two white men near Kennedy Boulevard . Her high-risk lifestyle had made her easy pickings, as well as throwing up hurdles to solving her murder. Random killings were always more difficult.
Special Agent Malone also examined the Simms case evidence and noted clear similarities. There were good matches between the tire impressions from both scenes, so the casts were sent to an expert in Ohio, according to Ward. He said that the right rear tire was a Goodyear Viva tire, while the left rear was a Vogue Tyre, an expensive tire exclusive to Cadillacs. This kind of individualizing evidence would definitely help if they ever identified a suspect.
There was also a close match on the fiber evidence. The red trilobal fiber found on both bodies indicated that these two women had a killer in common. Malone also found a second type of red fiber in the Simms case, a delustored red trilobal fiber, which indicated that the associated vehicle probably contained two different types of carpet fibers.
One more important clue emerged: Semen stains found on Simms' clothing indicated that the killer had an AB blood type. The hairs found on Simms were 8-inch-long, brown cranial hairs identified as Caucasian. They did not belong to her.
Since the FBI was already involved via the fiber analysis, it was but a short step to get the Behavioral Science Unit interested in the possibility of getting in on a serial killer case before it escalated.
No one then had any idea that they'd already been looking for this man as a notorious rapist. On June 2, the press ran a news report that indicated how seriously they were taking this investigation.
The FBI Gets Involved
HCSO sent a summary of the common factors from the crime scenes to the BSU, and agents there worked up a profile of the killer's probable background and personality traits. Flowers indicates that this occurred after the second victim, while Ward shows it after the fourth. Ward offers a retired agent's discussion of the various profile points, but Flowers reproduces the entire profile:
The agents thought the factors from both cases that were most important to their analysis were:
the victims had to depend on others for transportation the victims were essentially nude when found the victims had been similarly bound, while one was posed they had been picked up in Tampa they had been left near interstate highways in rural areas there were tire tread impressions at both scenes they were found at quite a distance from where they were last seen carpet fibers confirmed the relationship of the crimes
From these facts, it was clear that the killer was mobile and probably had or borrowed a vehicle. The leash-like ropes around the necks and the brutal beatings that exceeded what was necessary to kill them showed a certain deviance. It seemed more likely that the victims had been randomly selected because they were easy prey than that they were known to the killer.
He was deemed to be a white male, in his mid-20s, gregarious, extroverted, and manipulative. In general, he seemed to be what they classify as "organized." He would operate normally in society, but he would be argumentative, self-centered, and exhibit little or no emotion - all common to a psychopath. Being narcissistic, he would want to be the center of attention. He would also be impulsive, albeit not sufficiently so to risk being caught. It was likely that he lied easily and had a macho self-image. He might even have tattoos to that effect, and carry a weapon as a statement of his manhood.
At best, he'd have a high school education. If he'd even tried college, it was likely that he'd had trouble adjusting to the discipline and would have dropped out. He would be intelligent but have issues with authority. He may have been truant and disruptive. In keeping with his self-image, he would probably take masculine jobs or a job where his manipulative skills would be useful. He probably had difficulty holding down a job and would have had multiple short-term employments.
As a child, he probably was delinquent and difficult to control, and exhibited resentment toward efforts to impose discipline. He may have a history of bedwetting, arson, and animal cruelty.
If he had served in the military, he would have joined a masculine unit, such as the Marine Corps. Even here, his issues with authority would have gotten him into confrontations.
On the issue of relationships, and in the tradition of organized killers, he probably would have a woman in his life. He would date regularly, but not have long-term commitments. He would brag about his sexual exploits, and probably date younger women. If married, he would be unfaithful, and his chosen type of woman would be dependent and easily controlled.
His car of choice would be flashy, like a sports car.
It was also likely that he would have a prison record, or some record of problems with the law. Prior to these murders, he may have committed neighborhood crimes, such as voyeurism or burglary. Yet if he was ever in jail, he would have been a model albeit manipulative prisoner.
In these crimes, he was sadistic: he probably used some scheme to lure the women into his car, and then proceeded to torture them mentally and physically, keeping them alive for some period of time. He would leave little or no evidence behind. In all likelihood, he would kill again.
He could be a police buff. After the crime, he may return to the scene of the crime and participate in the investigation - both to deflect the investigators and to relive the experience. He would continue his lifestyle without change after the crime. On the anniversaries, as a way to relive his pleasure, he might contact the victims' family members, the police, or the media to gloat.
In addition to personality traits and probably background, the profilers also offered recommendations for interrogating a suspect, should they make an arrest. They suggested that whoever interrogates him know the facts of the case well, and ask questions with confidence. He should dress formally and appear to be a figure of authority, fully in control and not easily manipulated. He can demonstrate this by dropping facts from the crimes in a timed manner to give the killer the impression "that his entire background is known."
The BSU sent this profile to HCSO, but the killer had already struck again, and this time there was a difference.
Serial Killer at Large
On June 8, 1984, Elizabeth Loudenback, 22, a shy girl who worked on an assembly line, had gone for a walk from the mobile park where she lived, but never returned. He mother reported her missing.
It took more than two weeks before her body was found on a Sunday morning in an orange grove, severely decomposed. Ward says that she was nearly liquefied. Unlike the earlier two victims, she was fully clothed, but her hyoid bone was broken, indicating death by strangulation. Since there were no ropes at this scene and no interstate nearby, she was not immediately linked to the serial killer. She was also not a prostitute, drug addict, hitch-hiker, nor dancer. Only later would her clothing be checked and found to yield the same two types of red fibers that would link her case to the others. At this time, she was considered merely the victim of a random murder, possibly a copy-cat to the others.
There was a hiatus of several months before more victims were linked to this killer:
The fourth set of remains was found on October 7, 1984, by a ranch hand on a cattle ranch north of Hillsborough State Park. The body, dead for nearly a week, had been shoved under a barbed wire fence and was lying facedown. Her head was a mass of maggot activity. Her clothing had been scattered, her panties on the fence, her bra on the gate. The girl had been raped and strangled, and then killed with a shot to the back of her head - a different method from the others. She was identified by her fingerprints as Chanel Devon Williams, an 18-year-old black girl who had just been released from jail after being arrested for prostitution. The FBI lab found both types of red carpet fibers on her clothing, a brown Caucasian pubic hair on her sweater, and semen stains on her clothing that contained both A and H blood group substances. The semen stains found in this case did not match the Simms case, but both had been prostitutes, so the similarities among the evidence outweighed this difference. On October 14, 1984, a fifth body was discovered in northeastern Hillsborough County. Her wrists were bound with a red bandana, and her legs and neck had been tied with a long thick shoelace. She had been beaten about the head and raped. Her yellow sweatshirt was pulled up to her neck, exposing a bruised and bloodied torso, with indicators that she had been dragged. She was wearing only the sweatshirt, although the rest of what appeared to be her clothing was scattered nearby. The cause of death was strangulation. Because she was a known prostitute and drug addict, the investigating team had recognized her, but she was officially identified by her fingerprints as Karen Beth Dinsfriend, 28. To link her with the other victims, both types of the red fibers had been found on her clothes. There were also brown Caucasian pubic hairs and semen that indicated A and H blood substances. The next body was found two weeks later, on Halloween by a 71-year-old man clearing a ditch next to US 301 on the northern edge of Hillsborough County. This one was mummified, with hair still attached to her skull, so it was difficult to tell when she had been killed and dumped here. They did not rule her out of the investigation, but they did not have much evidence to use. They tried to identify her, but it wasn't until much later, when they had the killer in custody, that they learned her identity. She was Kimberly Kyle Hoops, known as "Sugar," a 22-year-old prostitute. She had been strangled to death with the black cloth choker that she wore around her neck. Another woman's body was found on November 6, 1984, in Pasco County , the next county over from Hillsborough. A woman out horseback riding on her ranch had come across this victim. Body parts had been severed and scattered throughout the field. Dr. Joan Woods, chief medical examiner of Pasco County , determined that the victim had been dead and dumped there for about two weeks. Although the bones had been gnawed by animals, Dr. Woods could still determine that the girl had died a violent death. There was a 9-inch cord tied twice around the neck over a piece of cloth and a thick shoelace bound the wrists together. There were no bullets or bullet wounds, so the cause of death was deemed strangulation. Despite the dismemberment, there were many similarities to the other murders. The victim was a Caucasian female, about 20 years old and 5-foot 5-inches tall. She was later identified, after the killer was apprehended, as 18-year-old Virginia Lee Johnson, a prostitute on the Tampa Strip. On November 12, 1984, a sign painter in Tampa came across another woman's body. The Tampa Police called in HCSO to take a look at the murder scene. This victim wore the leash-like noose around her neck and bore rope burns on her body. Her face was severely beaten, and her legs were forced open for a shocking display. Her clothing had been thrown near her, and fecal matter lay on the shirt. Dr. Miller estimated that she had been dead for two to three days, and that the cause of death was strangulation. Inside the jeans there was a driver's license for a Kim Marie Swann. She was 21, and like a previous victim, she worked as a dancer at the Sly Fox Lounge on the Tampa Strip. Also like most of the previous victims linked in this series, on her jeans they found small particles of reddish carpet and some brown hairs.
The police worked this case hard, given all the bodies they had within a short period of time, but no leads panned out. They were desperate to find a suspect.
A Survivor of Bobby Joe Long
Investigators busily interviewed people and watched suspicious areas along the Tampa Strip. They used their evidence and the FBI profile of the killer to narrow their search, but to no avail. The killer's identity eluded them.
Then 17-year-old Lisa McVey was abducted. While all of the published accounts of this case cover this tale, the victim herself has helped to write, Smoldering Embers, her own book about it. She had survived the serial killer and was able to tell the police what she knew.
While on her way home from work during the evening of November 3, 1984, Lisa was grabbed off her bicycle and tied up by someone hiding in the bushes along the road. He had a gun and said that he also had a knife. He quickly blindfolded her and forced her into his car. She was certain he meant to kill her.
She begged him not to hurt her and said that she would do whatever he wanted. He ordered her to remove her clothes in his car and to perform oral sex on him. He drove her around for a while, says Joel Norris in Serial Killers , and eventually brought her back to his apartment, where he kept her hostage. Her entire ordeal lasted 26 hours, as he repeatedly raped her, fondled her, forced her to perform sex acts on him, and even made her shower with him. He told her repeatedly that he did not want to hurt her.
But despite her terror, Lisa managed to keep her head clear. She looked for opportunities to find this man again if she ever got free. At one point, her kidnapper stopped at an automatic teller machine to get some cash, so she peered under the blindfold at the dashboard and memorized what she could see of the car's interior. She continued to get quick glimpses as they arrived at a white stucco building and went up some red steps.
Although the man insisted that she keep her eyes shut as he abused her, she managed to get a look at her surroundings. She also dropped a barrette next to the bed, unnoticed, to prove that she had been there.
After a marathon rape session, her attacker dozed off. When he woke up, he said he now trusted her. She sensed that when they talked, he relaxed and was less brutal with her. He stopped referring to her as "bitch" and started calling her "Babe." He even said he wished he could keep her. She had no idea what he intended to do, but she found ways to keep him from getting angry.
Then he seemed to lose interest. He took her back into his car and now she knew she would find out if she was to live or die. To her surprise, he stopped the car and told her to get out. He let her go, telling her, "Take care."
Lisa wasted no time in getting home. She woke her father, told him what happened, and he called the police. The investigators working the serial killer case did not yet realize it, but this was their big break.
Lisa described her kidnapper as a white male in his mid-30s. He had a deep voice; his hair was brown, about an inch long in a "layered cut." He had thin eyebrows and a short mustache, big nose, small ears, and good teeth. He was compact but slightly overweight and had come across as somewhat feminine.
She noted the gun, and then went on to describe the car, a dark red or maroon two-door Dodge Magnum with a red steering wheel and dashboard, and white seats and interiors. She did not remember anything about the carpet. She also recalled details about the apartment where she'd been raped and tried to give the officers a hint about its location, as well as the location of the bank where they had stopped, but the blindfold had limited how much she was able to offer.
On a hunch, HCSO sent the McVey rape evidence to Malone at the FBI lab to see if there was a connection to the serial murders.
In the meantime, a task force had been formed with members from HCSO, the Pasco County Sheriff's Department, the Tampa Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to combine forces and investigate the area's string of serial murders. Lt. Gary Terry was designated as the team supervisor.
Their first meeting took place on November 14, 1984. All the cooperating homicide and sex crime detectives learned that the FBI lab had processed the Lisa McVey evidence and found the same red fibers evident in the other serial murder cases. They now had good information about the killer, including a description of him, his car, his apartment, and his bank. The profile had come fairly close on several points. More important, the place where Lisa had been released had given them a good sense of where to be on the lookout for the red car.
Yet even as Lisa was telling her story, the killer was at work again on his next victim, a woman who willingly got into his car. She fought him, so he strangled her and then drove around with her corpse. He even stopped for gas with her body still in the front seat, but no one noticed. He then took her out to the countryside and dumped her.
The Takedown of Bobby Joe Long
On November 15 ( Newton says November 17), Detectives Wolf and Helms were on cruise patrol in Tampa when they saw a red Dodge Magnum in the slow moving traffic. (Flowers says slow-moving, while Ward indicates that the car "zipped" by, as if speeding.) They pulled the car over and they checked his license. The man's name was Robert Joe Long, better known as Bobby Joe, and his address matched the area that the police were searching for the killer's apartment. The car's interior also matched what Lisa McVey had described.
They approached him and told him they were looking for a robbery suspect (Ward says a hit-and-run suspect), so he cooperated and let them photograph him. He was visibly relieved when they let him go.
Now that they had information for leads, the task force checked the bank transactions and found that Long had made a withdrawal at precisely the time McVey said her abductor had made a withdrawal. That was significant. They then examined Long's criminal record and found that he was currently on probation for an aggravated assault in Hillsborough earlier in 1984. The FBI profile had indicated that the killer they were looking for could have a record.
They put surveillance teams on him and tapped into his phone line. They then got a vehicular search warrant and an arrest warrant on the charges of kidnapping and sexual battery. In preparation to take him, they put together four teams: an arrest and security transport team, a vehicular seizure and search team, a residence search team, and a neighborhood survey team to interview Long's neighbors.
A swarm of cops grabbed Long as he came out of a movie theater and placed him under arrest. Then the other teams went into action.
Once they had Long's car, they removed a sample of the right floor carpet and sent to the FBI lab for comparison. Special Agent Malone confirmed the fiber match. They disassembled the car's interior for them to check for fibers from the victims' clothing or from rope, victim fingerprints, blood, and any other potential physical evidence.
In Long's apartment, which looked as Lisa had described it, detectives located her barrette. They found plenty of photos of nude women, including photos that Long had taken of himself raping some victims. They also located pieces of female clothing.
Long signed a consent-to interview form and was interrogated by Detectives Latimer and Price. During the course of the interrogation, they learned that Long was an unemployed X-ray technician who lived in Tampa Florida . Once married and with two children, he had been divorced for five years. His former family lived with their mother in Hollywood , Florida .
He quickly admitted to kidnapping McVey and to having sex with her many times. Yet he added that at one point McVey said that she did not want to leave. He claimed that he had unloaded the gun and put the bullets in the trash so he wouldn't be tempted to hurt her. About the blindfold that Lisa wore, Long said he had fashioned it himself two days before the abduction - just in case. Long said he did not use drugs, rarely drank, and did not suffer from memory losses.
The interrogators then brought up the subject of physical evidence. They told Long the many kinds of evidence that can be gathered at a crime scene and showed him photos of the five known murder victims, asking if he knew them.
Long replied, "No."
He asked to use the bathroom. When he came back, they again started talking about physical evidence, specifically the left rear Vogue Tyre on the tire tread impressions. Long appeared to understand. He responded with, "I think I might need an attorney." Rather than end the interrogation there as required by law, Sgt. Latimer urged Long to be honest because they already had a case against him through the physical evidence.
Long smiled and said, "Well, I guess you got me good ... Yes, I killed them ... All the ones in the paper. I did them all." He was asked to describe each case and he complied with the details. He realized that he'd set himself up when he had not killed Lisa McVey as he had done with the others.
"I knew when I let her go," Norris quotes Long as saying, "that it would only be a matter of time. I didn't even tell her not to talk to the police or anything ... I just didn't care anymore, and I wanted to stop. I was sick inside."
Newton indicates that if anyone was destined to become a serial killer, it was Bobby Joe Long. A distant cousin of the notorious Henry Lee Lucas, who had confessed and recanted and confessed to hundreds of murders, Long had also survived numerous blows to the skull: a fall from a swing, a fall from his bicycle, a fall from a pony, a motorcycle crash. In addition, he proved to have an extra X chromosome that had produced abnormal amounts of estrogen during puberty. To make matters worse, he had slept in his mother's bed until he was 13, and when he finally married, his wife dominated him. He suffered from blinding headaches and driving obsessions with sex, as well as the ability to have sex repeatedly.
As Long confessed that day, he described how he had invited Lana Long into his car because she needed a ride. With Michelle Simms, he had hit her on the head after he couldn't strangle her because he didn't want her to suffer when he stabbed her.
Next, he described the killing of Elizabeth Loudenback, who he said he had considered letting go until "she jerked me around." He had strangled her with a rope, and then took her purse and used her bank card before throwing it away. He described the killing of Chanel Williams, and claimed that the gun he used to kill her was the same gun with which he had kidnapped McVey, and also the gun used in his earlier conviction of aggravated assault.
He described the murder of Karen Dinsfriend, in which he had started to strangle her in one orange grove, but had heard dogs barking, so he put her in the trunk and moved her to another grove where he finished the job. He spoke of the murder of "Sugar" (later identified as Kimberly Hoops) who he had left in a ditch. Long described the murder of the girl whose remains had been found scattered in a field. He didn't know her name, but he did know Kim Swann, whom he had picked up when he saw her driving drunk and weaving down a street. He said he hit her several times in the head to "subdue" her.
When the police asked him if he knew anything about the disappearance of Vicky Elliot, a 21-year-old who went missing in September as she was walking to work for her midnight shift at the Ramada Inn, he acknowledged killing her. She had accepted a ride, and when he tried to tie her up she fought him off with a pair of scissors. That angered him, so he strangled her. He drew a map to direct the investigators to her body.
His confession, when transcribed, ran 45 pages long.
In addition to the murders, Long also solved a series of rapes that had occurred in the area over the past several years.
The Classified Ad Rapist
Long had developed a successful MO: between 1980 and 1983, he scanned papers for ads for items for sale. Long's former roommate, Ted Gensel, recalled for police how Long used to make a lot of calls to people who had placed ads. In particular, he was looking for bedroom furniture (which Long later explained was because one would have to try it out before a purchase). He also went up to houses that bore "For Sale" signs and often forced his way in. A few times, he raped girls as young as 12 or 13.
After he found an ad he liked, he would call and arrange to go look at the item during the day, when husbands were unlikely to be home. If he was mistaken, he could always decline to buy the item and walk away. More often, a woman alone answered the door. They often let him in because he came across as clean-cut, well-dressed, and respectable. As Ward puts it, "He did not look like a rapist."
He practiced this maneuver in neighborhoods in the counties surrounding Ocala , Miami , and Fort Lauderdale . When a woman opened the door and appeared to be alone and vulnerable, Long would pull his knife. Then he would bind the victims and rape them, often robbing the home as well before he left.
In a letter that Ward reprinted, Long writes that "a few of them got into it" and even asked him if he minded if they enjoyed it. He said that while he raped them, he made them talk to him. Most did not resist, but those who did received a punch in the stomach that showed them he meant business. "Give a bitch a choice between getting dicked and getting hurt," he said, "you know what she's gonna pick."
In his opinion, he was doing them a favor because they had such miserable sex lives with their husbands. He believed that had he not begun to kill, he could have kept up with this criminal activity indefinitely. To him, it seemed foolproof. He got a kick out of seeing himself described in the newspapers as the Classified Ad Rapist or the Adman Rapist. Even when they knew how he was doing it, they had been unable to catch him.
Although the police dated the first of these rapes to 1980, Long claimed he had started using this method in 1975 or 1976. "Mostly I did it for the thrill of it," he admitted. He especially liked the "intimidation factor" of his "sharp, nasty blade."
The FBI labeled him a "power assertive rapist," which meant that he was doing these crimes to affirm for himself his own manhood. Roy Hazelwood, in The Evil that Men Do , describes such men as those who "assault to assert their masculinity, about which he has no doubts The most important thing in the world for him is for others to see him as a man's man." He will rip off clothing, terrorize, and show no concern for his victim's suffering.
The method was actually not as foolproof as he claimed. He was nearly caught on several occasions as he fled the place. There were witnesses.
In 1981, he had actually been convicted of rape, but in an appeal he claimed the discovery of witnesses who affirmed that the alleged victim had actually given her consent to have sex. Long was let go and he continued his attacks.
He appears to have raped at least 50 women, with some estimates going as high as 150. Norris says Long's rapes followed the cycles of the full moon.
Gathering Evidence Against Bobby Joe Long
The investigators followed the map that Long had provided and discovered the ninth victim, Vicky Elliot. Her skeletal remains were found with a broken hyoid bone, and the scissors were found in what would have been the vaginal cavity. A positive identification was made from her dental records. They also found tiny red fibers that definitively linked her to Long.
A missing person report of Virginia Johnson matched the description of the unknown victim. A heart pendant found on the corpse was linked to her, and she was positively identified by her dental records.
The knife mostly likely used in the Michelle Simms murder was discovered in Long's apartment and was catalogued as evidence.
After a grand jury hearing, Bobby Joe Long was charged with eight counts of murder and sexual battery and nine counts of kidnapping, with one count of murder pending for Virginia Johnson, which was decided by Pasco County 's grand jury. He was also charged with violating his probation for aggravated assault. Because of the murder charges, he was refused bail.
Then other bodies were found.
On November 19, 1984, a woman's corpse floated up in the Hillsborough River . She had been strangled with some type of device. She was never identified, but she fit Long's profile. On November 22, 1984, another woman's skeletal remains were found. She was identified as Artis Wick, and her remains were at least 6 to 8 months old. Her hands were bound, and her death is attributed to Long by the FBI and HCSO, although he never confessed to the crime and he was never charged. Police believed that while she was the last victim found, she may have been the first to die.
Long was formally charged for the rape and robbery of a Palm Harbor woman, and he was suspected in many more rape cases.
Holmes & Holmes discuss sex-related homicides in their book, Murder in America . To them, a sexual homicide is "a murder that combines fatal violence with a sexual element. The violence usually ends with the death of the victim and is often preceded by various aberrant sexual acts."
Often it's guided by a highly detailed fantasy and some degree of controlling the victim. Sometimes they consume parts of the victims, bite them, or cut them up, all of which is done for the purposes of erotic self-stimulation. Sometimes they use fetish objects, such as shoes or underwear, or rely on rituals. They have little control over this and it can become addictive and compulsive. Long's crimes were definitely compulsive.
Norris says that after each murder, Long would go home and sleep deeply. He apparently claimed that when he awoke, the entire incident seemed more like a dream than reality. He would then go purchase a newspaper to read about it. Via the press, he learned more about each of his victims. He came to hate these women, believing that as "sluts" they had deserved to die, anyway. Yet he did not want to stop what he was doing.
Finally, Long's case came to trial. Several times.
The Slippery Con
In 1985, Long was tested and considered competent to stand trial. There was evidence, according to Norris, of organic impairment from his earlier head injuries, but doctors did not deem them problematic for the courtroom. Norris suggests that the physical analysis was too superficial to be useful. He and psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis believed that Long's problems stemmed from brain injuries and impairment, and that he should not have been considered responsible for his behavior. Norris also points out how the hormonal imbalances influenced Long's behavior (though others in Long's family suffered this as well, but they did not become serial rapists or killers).
"Dorothy Lewis," Norris writes, "noted that Long's hypersexuality and hair-trigger violence conformed to a pattern of behavior associated with neurological damage associated with the limbic region of the brain."
He claims that had Long understood that his problem was a medical one, he would have had it treated. Yet there is no evidence to indicate that this is true, aside from his word on it - and this from a man who believed his rapes were good for his victims. Even organic impairment would not make him that oblivious or arrogant. Nor would it make him despise prostitutes or women in general, or make up different accounts about what he had done to his victims (which can be seen when comparing Norris's rendition with the letters that Ward publishes).
Long says that by allowing a victim to go free, he basically turned himself in. Yet any psychopath who wants to retain his illusion of control might say as much.
Long admitted that he was aware of what he was doing and that it was wrong. He showed careful control of his crimes, taking care not to be discovered, which is sufficient to be judged guilty rather than insane. He says that he considered going to a doctor but decided not to take the chance that he might be turned in to the police. Clearly, then, he knew that what he was doing was wrong and against the law.
Long faced a lengthy series of trials in Florida , all of which were deeply flawed, and it was his intent to drag the process out as long as he could. Many different attorneys came in and out of his case, including celebrity defense attorney Ellis Rubin. Two of Long's death penalty convictions were later overturned by the Florida Supreme Court, because among other problems, that panel of justices deemed that the police had gone over the line in their interrogations. The high court specifically noted that only four hours of testimony had been presented on the murder for which Long was charged, while three entire days had been spent admitting highly prejudicial evidence of other murders with which he had not been charged. That got Long new trials.
Long's guilt was never really an issue, but whether he should be executed or granted life in prison was the primary consideration.
A parade of mental health experts was brought into the case to try to prove that Long's genetic anomalies and head injuries accounted for his behavior. They also blamed his parents and too much pornography, according to Ward.
Dr. Helen Morrison, who had interviewed Long for 23 hours, diagnosed him with "atypical psychosis." He had a distorted perception of reality and was unable to make moral decisions. His mind was fragmented and non-cohesive, and had been so since he was a very young child. He eventually lost his ability to maintain control. Thus, he could not comprehend the criminality of his actions. Another psychiatrist said that once he picked these women up, he was "like a stick of dynamite with a short fuse."
Throughout the string of trials, beginning with the one in Pasco County for the Virginia Johnson murder, prosecutors were looking for two death sentences, just in case one might be overturned. Simultaneously, Long was being tried on his home-invasion and rape cases. The defense just kept raising the neurological issues in the hope that someone would see that Long could not be responsible for becoming a serial rapist and killer, and show mercy. In one trial, they actually said that he was such a unique specimen that he should be preserved and studied.
Even Dr. John Money, renowned for his work in confused gender identity, came into the case. He spoke about the effects of the extra female chromosome, exacerbated by the head injuries, on a fragile ego. This had created in Long a Jekyll/Hyde syndrome. (Money was to be discredited in years to come when his failed work on a re-gendered young man came to light in the victim's book).
The prosecution countered with psychiatrists who contended that Long had antisocial personality disorder, not deemed a mental illness. He was a liar and he had known what he was doing when he raped and murdered.
In the end, no jury accepted the defense's psychiatric testimony. By the time Florida was done with Bobby Joe Long, he had received two death sentences and 34 life sentences (many of which were reached in plea deals), plus an additional 693 years.
After his first death sentence, Long left the court whistling a tune. He had decided that since he was "no killer like other guys on death row," his sentences had merely been political.
Then something else happened.
During 1997, the FBI lab came under the scrutiny of the Department of Justice, which issued a blistering 500-page report about testimony from the crime lab technicians. Those cases that had been worked by renowned fiber expert, Special Agent Michael Malone, became eligible for appeal. Long's was one of them, since fiber evidence had been instrumental in his conviction. In fact, a 1992 assault conviction based on Malone's neglect to do the proper testing of the fiber evidence was overturned in 2003, and other cases were re-examined. Malone's once sterling reputation came under fire and he was allowed to retire in 1999.
However, along with fiber evidence, Long had also confessed and there was other evidence as well, including McVey's powerful testimony and hair from a victim found in Long's car, so the appeal merely delayed the process. As of this writing, Long is still on Florida 's death row.
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