A Florida serial killer who murdered 10 women in 1984 and sexually assaulted countless others was executed this week, while two of his surviving victims watched from the front row.
On Thursday night, Bobby Joe Long, 65, was given a lethal injection and pronounced dead at 6:55 p.m. inside of a Florida State Prison after 34 years on death row, The Tampa Bay Times reports.
As he was slowly being killed, two of Long’s surviving rape victims, Lisa McVey Noland and Linda Nuttall, watched on from the front row of the viewing room, according to WFLA.
Noland’s position was strategic, as she told reporters in a press conference after the execution that she hoped Long would see her in his final moments.
“I wanted to look him in the eye. I wanted to be the first person he saw. Unfortunately, he didn’t open his eyes,” she explained. “It was comforting to know this was actually happening.”
Over the course of eight months in 1984, Long terrorized the Tampa Bay area, killing and raping multiple women. Artiss Ann Wick was the first female killed in March 1984 and then nine others followed her shortly after, according to the Associated Press.
Noland was one of the luckier ones who managed to convince Long to let her go.
After he abducted her outside of a church 35 years ago, Noland said he raped her several times but ultimately freed her when she lied and told him she was the sole caregiver to a sick parent in an attempt to evoke sympathy, The Tampa Bay Times reports.
Speaking to AP about her rapist, Noland remembered all the details of her attack, from the gun pressed to her head, to the fact that she was menstruating and made sure to leave blood evidence on his car’s back seat, to counting the steps to his apartment on the second floor, and leaving fingerprints all over his bathroom.
It was all those pieces of evidence that helped authorities capture Long after Noland was freed.
At that point, it had been too late for many others, including Michelle Denise Simms, a 22-year-old former beauty pageant contestant from California whom Long was eventually executed by the state for.
Simms’ body was discovered near an Interstate 4 overpass in 1984, bound with a rope, while her throat was cut, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
Once in custody, the serial killer was convicted of killing eight women but actually confessed to 10 murders, one of those being Simms, and to sexually assaulting many more, the outlet reports.
Long also received a death sentence for the murder of 18-year-old Virginia Lee Johnson but the Florida Supreme Court overturned it and acquitted Long on appeal.
Speaking to WFLA, Nuttall, who was raped by Long in her home when he responded to a furniture advertisement around Memorial Day Weekend, said, “I just felt lucky that I survived his attack.”
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Noland and Nuttall weren’t the only people with close connections to the serial killer watching Long’s execution on Thursday. Also in attendance were the family members of the multiple women he killed, including Chanel Williams and Vicky Elliott.
“That was something I wouldn’t miss,” Chanel’s sister Algalana Douglas said, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
“We thank God that this day has finally arrived,” Lula Williams, Chanel’s mother, added. “Now, after 35 years, we can say we had some peace of mind knowing that justice has been served.”
The sentiments were similar for Noland and Nuttall after their rapist had been killed.
“The peace that came over me is a remarkable feeling,” said Noland, who has since gone on to become a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office — the same department she helped lead to Long’s arrest.
Nuttall added: “I had, and I continue to have, a joyful life. Today, justice was served.”