Updated: Monday, May 20, 2019  9:22 am EDT

Robert Joseph Long a/k/a Bobby Joe Long is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm EDT, on Thursday, May 23, 2019, at the Florida State Penitentiary in Raiford, Florida. Sixty-five-year-old Robert, a serial murder, has pled guilty to eight murders, and will be executed for the murder of 22-year-old Michelle Denise Simms in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida in 1984. Robert has spent the last 32 years on death row in Florida.

The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a two requests from Robert to halt his execution.  Previously, the Florida Supreme Court rejected an argument that Robert should receive a stay of execution while the Florida Supreme Court considers another case, whose decision could affect Robert.  The issue in the other case regards the 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida, by the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled Florida's death sentencing procedure unconstitutional.  The Florida Supreme Court then ruled that Hurst v. Florida, was only retroactive to cases after 2002, long after Robert was sentenced to death.  Robert and his attorneys have also previously, unsuccessfully attempted to argue that the drugs to be used during the execution could cause Robert pain and suffering during the execution. According to Robert's attorney, brain damage sustained while Robert was young has left him with epilepsy and the drugs could cause him to have a seizure during the execution.  This appeal has also been rejected.

The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a second argument from Robert, in which Robert claims his time already served on death row should count as his punishment, therefore executing him is a violation of his 8th and 14th Amendment rights. Additionally, new medical advancements in the assessment of his brain injury should qualify him for a new hearing. Both claims have been rejected by the court.

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Robert had a difficult childhood and was teased as a child due to a birth defect. During his childhood, he also suffered multiple head injuries. Robert had a dysfunctional relationship with his mother, sleeping in the same bed as her until he was a teenager. He had no stable male role model while growing up, as his mother had a string of short-term boyfriends. Shortly after graduating high school, Robert married his high school girlfriend, and they went on to have two children. They divorced six years after they got married. While recovering from a severe motorcycle accident, Robert began suffering from blinding headaches, unpredictable violent rages, and became obsessed with sex.

On May 27, 1984, the nude body of Michelle Simms was discovered near Plant City, Florida. Her hands and body were bound in rope and her clothing was found scattered nearby. Rope burns indicated that she had been strangled, as well as had her throat slit and multiple head injuries. Her exact cause of death was unknown, but any of the aforementioned injuries could have been the cause of death.

The discovery of Michelle’s body began an intense investigation into the abduction, rape, and murder of least 9 other women in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas, Florida, collectively known as the Tampa Bay Area. The investigation involved law enforcement officials from multiple counties, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Forensic evidence, specifically fibers from a vehicle carpet, linked the crimes to a single perpetrator.

 

On November 3, 1984, Lisa McVey was kidnapped leaving a donut shot in northern Tampa, Florida. She was taken to an unknown apartment and was sexually assaulted for the next 26 hours. She was then released. Carpet fibers gathered from her clothing matched the carpet fibers found in the other cases. Lisa was extensively interviewed by law enforcement officials after the connection was made. She was able to recall that her abductor had a red vehicle with a red interior. The vehicle also had the word “Magnum” on the dash. Using this information, police were able to narrow down the suspect list. Lisa identified Robert Long, a/k/a Bobby Long as her abductor through a photo lineup.

 

On November 16, 1984, Long was arrested and charged with the sexual battery and kidnapping of Lisa. After waiving his Miranda rights, Long eventually confessed to the kidnapping and rape of Lisa. Investigators continued questioning Long, bringing up the recent murders. Long evading answering questions, claiming he did not know anything, about these murders, eventually stating that he thought he needed an attorney.

 

Over an 8-month period in 1984, 10 women were kidnapped, raped, and murdered: 20-year-old Artiss Ann Wick on March 27, 1984; 19-year-old Ngeun Thi Long on May 13, 1984; 22-year-old Michelle Denise Simms on May 27, 1984; 22-year-old Elizabeth Loudenback on June 8, 1984; 21-year-old Vicky Marie Elliott on September 7, 1984; 18-year-old Chanel Devoun Williams on October 7, 1984; 28-year-old Karen Beth Dinsfriend on October 14, 1984; 22-year-old Kimberly Kyle Hopps on October 31, 1984; Virginia Lee Johnson on November 6, 1984; and 21-year-old Kim Marie Swann on November 11, 1984.

 

Eventually, Long confessed to eight of the murders, including providing police with instruction on where to find one of the bodies. He also confessed to being the “Classified Ad Rapist,” a man who would schedule appointments for the middle of day to view furniture advertised through classified ads. Upon arriving, if the women were alone, Long would force his way into the homes at knife point and rape the women, before robbing them and fleeing.

 

Long reached a plea bargain for eight of the murders and was sentenced to 24 concurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole, two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, and seven life sentences with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

 

Long was tried separately for the murders of Virginia Johnson and Michelle Simms. He was sentenced to death for both murders, however those sentences were later overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. Long was again sentenced to death for the murder of Michelle.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for Lisa McVey and for the families of Artiss Wick, Ngeun Long, Michelle Simms, Elizabeth Loudenback, Vicky Elliot, Chanel Williams, Karen Dinsfriend, Kimberly Hopps, Virginia Johnson, and Kim Swann. Please pray for any others that have been affected by Robert Long. Please pray that if Robert is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed or should not be executed for any other reason, evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Robert may come to find peace through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

  

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