- Bobby Joe Long, 65, was pronounced dead at 6:55 p.m. Thursday.
- Noland was abducted by Long outside a church that year. He raped her but ultimately let her go free.
- She said she began to cry after she left the room once it was over.
STARKE, Fla. – A serial killer who terrorized Florida with a murderous spree that claimed 10 women in 1984 was put to death Thursday, his execution witnessed by a woman who survived one of his attacks and aided in his capture.
Bobby Joe Long, 65, was pronounced dead at 6:55 p.m. Thursday following a lethal injection at Florida State Prison. Long had no last words, simply closing his eyes as the procedure began, witnesses said.
The killer terrified the Tampa Bay area for eight months in 1984 as women began showing up dead, their bodies often left in gruesome poses. Most were strangled, some had their throats slit, and others were bludgeoned.
Law enforcement had few clues until the case of Lisa Noland, who survived one of Long’s attacks. She witnessed Thursday’s execution from the front row.
She left evidence of his crimes on the scene and gave police details leading to his capture.
Long confessed to the crimes, receiving 28 life sentences and one death sentence for the murder of 22-year-old Michelle Simms.
Noland positioned herself in the witness room where she hoped Long would see her.
“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 said. “It was comforting to know this was actually happening.”
She said she began to cry after she left the room once it was over.
“The peace that came over me is a remarkable feeling,” she said.
Another witness wore a polo shirt with a photo of one victim on the front and the words “Gone But Not Forgotten.” On the back were photos of all 10 slaying victims and the words, “The Ones That Matter.”
Noland became the victim Long let go. The day before her abduction, she’d written a suicide note, planning to end her life after years of sexual abuse by her grandmother’s boyfriend.
But she ended up using heroic use of that history.
“At the time he put the gun to my head, it was nothing new to me,” she told The Associated Press.
She said she knew from her past abuse that if she fought Long, it would further enrage him.
“I had to study this guy,” she said. “I had to learn who he was, what made him tick. If I did the wrong move, could it end my life? So literally, the night before I wrote a suicide note out, and now I was in a position where I had to save my life.”