Tampa Bay's serial killer: a look back at the Bobby Joe Long mur - WNCN: News, Weather

Tampa Bay's serial killer: a look back at the Bobby Joe Long murders

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May marks the anniversary of a chilling time in Hillsborough County: the time when Bobby Joe Long, a confessed serial killer, started his murder spree.

"This guy's biggest regret is that he got caught," said retired Col. Gary Terry of the Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office. "There's no remorse. There's never been remorse."

Terry was the supervisor of the task force investigation into Bobby Long. He remembers how the series of homicides started on May 13, 1984, when people discovered the body of Lana Long in southern Hillsborough County.

"The victim had been bound hands behind her back her legs were spread about 5-foot, 1-inch from one heel to the other heel," Terry said.

She had a ligature around her neck.

"It just struck us that this wasn't good," he said.

Two weeks later there was another. Then another.

"The series of homicides started and we were finding a body - it averaged out - about every two weeks," Terry said.


But detectives started finding a common thread: red, trilobal, nylon carpet fiber.

"Fiber evidence is often referred to as the silent witness - it never says a word but the mere presence - it can link your cases," Terry said.

But the killer stayed ahead of investigators.

"His case was actually the first case we ever had profiled," Terry explained. "We had been chasing this guy for almost eight months. It's almost like you're chasing a shadow and he's killing people and we're one step behind him all the time. You'd sit at home looking at the telephone waiting for it to ring ... because you knew there was going to be another body found."


Detectives even got a letter from infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.

"Ted Bundy was offering his expertise as a consultant," Terry said. "He made some statements in the letter that were true - certain things we should look for. In 1984, I told my detectives we would go anywhere in the world if it's a lead and would help solve this case ... we'll chase leads to the end of the earth if we have to."

They never used Bundy. A huge break came in November. Lisa McVey, a 17-year-old who worked at a Tampa doughnut shop, was riding her bicycle home when Long grabbed her.


"I'm just plucked off my bicycle by God knows who and I felt the cold, steel barrel of to the left side of my temple," she said. "I said 'God whatever you do - don't killed me. I'll do whatever you want me to do; just don't kill me."

He made her get in his car and strip.

"When I got in I saw a huge hunting knife in the seat so I knew this guy was for real," she said. "He bound my arms...bound my legs."

Then came the blindfold and the first sexual assault, then the car started moving.

"You could hear cars; why couldn't anybody see me? A naked girl tied up in a seat," Lisa thought.

Eventually they stopped. It was his house. He made her shower. She touched everything she could to leave fingerprints.

"It was almost like he was playing out a sick fantasy, love romantic ... interlude with a girlfriend," Lisa remembers. "I got in bed; I'm laying there - just trembling all over thinking - what is this guy going to do? He crawls over me in the bed, slides a gun against my stomach and says, 'this is a reminder: I still have this.'"

Lisa says she lost count of how many times he raped her that night. But she kept calm. She lied about her name; said she had a sick father she needed to take care of. She even told Long she would come and be his girlfriend. Lisa said she had suffered years of abuse and knew how to outsmart him.

"I played it out," she said. "I used it as a benefit to me to save my own life."

After 26 hours, he drove her back to her neighborhood. On the ride home, she peaked through the blindfold and noticed "MAGNUM" written on the dashboard. The interior was white with red carpet. Her observant nature would help crack the case.

Lisa went to the detectives. She'd later pick Bobby Joe Long from a photo. The red threads at crime scenes now made sense for detectives: it was from his Dodge Magnum with red carpet.

"If we had not captured him when we did - I'd hate to think what his body count would've been," Terry said.

Long would eventually confess to 10 murders and dozens of rapes. Deputies would later intercept some of his writings in jail to another inmate.


"He wrote some of the most profane and graphic notes to this individual ... how he enjoyed raping women and also in some of the notes - he talked about telling us one more case...trying to make demands on us to take him out and he would show us where another body was," Terry said.

They think he was planning an escape. Terry said Long also broke a detention officer's arm in the county jail and concealed medicine in an effort to commit suicide.

"I made him a promise that I'll be there when he's executed," Terry said. "No one deserves to be killed liked these women were killed."

Bobby Joe Long has been on death row since 1985. He's in a state prison in Raiford and there's no execution day set for him.

Lisa, whose last name is now Nolan, is a Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's deputy, the same agency that help catch her abductor.

"I made a promise to the 10 victims who didn't make it. I made a promise to all the girls who had been a rape victim of his who never came forward ... to be their voice. They deserve to be heard," Lisa said. "I have a voice. I have a name. And I have a story to be told."

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