TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Kenova native and notorious Florida serial killer Bobby Joe Long was set for execution Thursday night after spending more than 30 years on death row for the murder of nine women in the 1980s.
Long was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in Raiford, Florida.
"Classified Ad Rapist" Robert Joseph Long, better known as Bobby Joe Long, 65, has been on death row for nearly 34 years at Florida State Prison for his role in the deaths of nine women in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. He abducted, raped and murdered at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay area over an eight-month period in 1984.
Long received the death penalty for the May 1984 stabbing and beating death of 22-year-old former beauty contestant Michelle Denise Simms. He also pleaded guilty to killing eight other women in the Tampa area and claimed to have raped 40 women in three states. His killing spree lasted from March to November 1984.
His arrest came after the Nov. 3, 1984, kidnapping of Lisa McVey, 17, who convinced him to let her go before she gave police information that led to his arrest.
His known murder victims are Artiss Ann Wick, Ngeun Thi Long, Elizabeth Loudenback, Vicky Marie Elliott, Chanel Devoun Williams, Karen Beth Dinsfriend, Kimberly Kyle Hopps, Virginia Lee Johnson, Kim Marie Swann and Simms.
An observant McVey, who is now a deputy sheriff in Florida and told Mirror.com she plans to attend the execution, survived after being raped at gunpoint and held in captivity for more than a day before Long drove her home blindfolded.
The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the Florida Supreme Court turned down an appeal aimed at halting Thursday's execution, which had challenged the state's lethal injection procedure.
Long was born in 1954 at the former Rife-Ferguson Hospital in Kenova. He was born with an extra X chromosome, which allegedly subjected him to bullying throughout his life, and suffered at least three severe head injuries.
After his parents divorced when he was 2, Long bounced between West Virginia and Florida for the remainder of his un-incarcerated life, although he did not visit West Virginia much, as previous Herald-Dispatch articles indicated.
At one point he attended Cammack Elementary School until suffering a head injury when he was hit by a car. After his recovery, he returned to Florida, eventually dropping out of a Florida school in the 10th grade to work as an electrician. In previous Herald-Dispatch articles from the 1980s, his parents, Louella and Joseph Long, said this is when his life started going downhill.
After dropping out, he was accused of trying to steal a car battery and raping a girl during that time. He was also hit unconscious and robbed by a man carrying a bag of bricks, his mother had told The Herald-Dispatch.
"Not many things went right for our boy. Some people go through life without everything falling into place. Nothing ever fell into place for him," his parents said.
Prior to the killings, he had married - and later divorced - his childhood sweetheart, Cindy, in the 1970s, with whom he has two children.
Cindy said his personality seemed to change after he received head, back and leg injuries in a motorcycle crash while serving in the U.S. Army in the early 1970s. She has since said in television interviews that he was an abusive husband.
"After the accident, he didn't want to be around anyone," she said after his arrest. "He was always sort of a loner, but after the accident he didn't go anywhere or do anything. The only people he wanted to be around was his family."
After the motorcycle crash, Long received an associate degree in radiology from Broward College in Florida and spent much of his career drifting between states, at one point working jobs, one of which lasted for about two months in 1983, at two Huntington hospitals. He was fired from the position due to "unethical conduct" involving patients, The Herald-Dispatch previously reported.
He was given the name of "Classified Ad Rapist" because he met his victims through newspaper advertisements, raping dozens of them in Florida in the 1970s. He also lived in California, where he is suspected to be responsible for several sexual assaults involving classified ads for which he was never prosecuted.
A study conducted by Radford University's Department of Psychology said Long's hatred of women had grown from a nontraditional relationship with his mother, who he said slept in the same bed as him until his teenage years, would dress provocatively and brought several different men home during his adolescence.
His parents had said if their son is responsible for the crimes, it was due to the personal trauma and head injuries.
"He's been sick for years. We tried to get him to get help, but he wouldn't go," his parents said.
In 1984, while on probation for a prior assault, he turned to murder, searching for victims by driving around areas where women were known to walk alone. Fiber analysis of red fibers found at the crime scenes connected Long to the murders after it was found the fibers came from his vehicle.
The fibers, along with McVey's statements, led to his convictions. On top of his death sentence, Long is serving one five-year sentence, four 99-year sentences and 28 life sentences.
Florida police said he was on three years' probation for an aggravated assault against a woman at the time of his arrest and he had a police record dating back to 1970. Kenova Police Department records showed he was arrested in November 1982 and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault and destruction of property. He was found not guilty of assault and had to pay $68 for breaking an automobile mirror.
While Long had spent time in Huntington less than a year before his murder spree began, current Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said Monday he is unaware of any connection between Long and unsolved homicide investigations or other crimes from that era.