Bobby Joe Long Denied Stay Of Execution; Surviving Victim Speaks
TAMPA, FL — A judge has denied a stay of execution for convicted serial killer Bobby Joe Long.
During a hearing Friday morning in Tampa, Long’s attorneys asked a judge to stay the execution, claiming their client could have an adverse reaction to the drugs used during the lethal injection, making the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment.
They noted that Long, 65, had gallbladder surgery in 2013 and the anesthesia didn’t work properly, causing Long to wake up during the procedure.
Long had hoped to testify on his own behalf in Tampa Friday but complained that the restraints used to transport him from the Florida State Prison in Starke to Tampa were too confining.
“With leg irons, handcuffs, waist chains, a black box on the waist chain, which goes on top of the handcuffs and locks the handcuffs in place so there is no flexibility, no movement and that’s pulled in the waist chain and pulled tight against my stomach,” said Long in a prison interview Wednesday. “Also, I will have a shock box on me. That is torture.”
However, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco said she has no authority to modify the restraints used to transport a death penalty inmate.
After hearing from Long’s attorneys on Friday, Sisco upheld Long’s death warrant.
The clock has been ticking for Long since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his death warrant on April 23. Long is scheduled to be put to death on Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.
Long spread terror throughout Tampa Bay during a string of serial murders in the 1980s. He was convicted of killing eight women in Hillsborough County, but detectives believe there could be more victims including a Pinellas County and a Pasco County woman.
Long was sentenced to death in 1986. He is among 341 other men and women currently on Florida’s death row. When he is put to death on May 23, Long will be the 98th person executed in Florida since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Lisa McVey Noland said she cried when the governor signed his death warrant.
Noland is the only known victim to escape from Long.
This week, during National Crime Victims Rights Week, Noland and other survivors were invited to Tallahassee to tell their stories to lawmakers and, once again, demand justice.
Noland was 17 years old, riding her bike home from her job working nights at a Tampa doughnut shop at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 3, 1984, when she encountered Long.
In an interview with the media on Wednesday, Noland remembered hearing the stories about the murders and was worried about becoming a victim herself.
“And then you think, ‘It can’t happen to me,’ but it did,” she said.
Noland said she was suddenly knocked off her bike and pulled into a car. She felt a gun at her temple.
“When I felt the steel, cold barrel of that gun, it was very familiar,” she said. “My grandma’s boyfriend used to put a gun to my head every time he molested me for three years.”
Noland said she turned to God for help.
“When we got to the destination, all I saw was trees and I started reciting the Lord’s Prayer,” she said. “I remember pleading with God — whatever you do, just don’t let him kill me.”
She said Long ordered her to remove all of her clothing, “and I did,” she said. “He proceeded to escort me into the bathroom and he gives me a shower.”
At both knife point and gun point, Long repeatedly raped her.
“The next 26 hours, I was brutally raped by this monster,” she said. “Not molestation, not sexual assault — it was rape.”
Nevertheless, she was determined to survive.
“I was going to do whatever I could to get out of that situation. I wasn’t going to allow anyone else to take anything from me.”
In a last-ditch effort to save herself, Noland said she told Long that she had a sick father that only she could care for. Long finally drove her back to Hillsborough and Rome avenues, not far from where he abducted her.
“So he drove off. I pulled my blindfold down, and the first thing I saw was this gorgeous, beautiful oak tree,” she said. “That’s the moment I knew my life was about to change for the good. I saw the branches of new life.”
Using tips gleaned from watching countless television detective shows, Noland was able to provide detectives with clues that eventually led to Long’s capture.
Under her blindfold, she caught a glimpse of the word “Magnum” on the name plate of Long’s car. She counted the number of steps to his apartment and made sure to mark the bathroom with her fingerprints.
“At one time he placed my hands on his face. There were pock marks, a small mustache, small ears, short hair, clean-cut, kind of stout, but not overweight — a big guy,” she recalled.
Despite struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and nightmares for the past 34 years, Noland declared, “I’m no longer a victim. I’m a survivor.”
She said the experience motivated her to become a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy 17 years ago, to be in a position to not only protect herself but protect others from predators like Long. She currently works as a school resource deputy at Buchanan Middle School, not far from where she was abducted.
And she fully intends to be at the state prison on May 23 to watch Long take his last breath. She said she already knows what she’ll be wearing — a T-shirt with the word “Long” on the front and the word “Overdue” on the back.