By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) – A 65-year-old man known as one of Florida’s most notorious serial killers who was convicted of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing eight women in 1984 was put to death on Thursday.
The execution of Robert Long was carried out “without incident” at 6:55 p.m. eastern time at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, said Michelle Glady, director of communications for the state Department of Corrections.
Long was put to death just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final bid for a stay of execution. It was not immediately clear if he made a final statement.
Investigators said Long’s crime spree began in the early 1980s when he answered ads for household goods for sale in local newspapers placed by women, went to their homes and sexually assaulted them.
Authorities believe that Long, dubbed the “Classified Ad Rapist,” used this tactic to rape dozens of women in California and Florida.
Long was arrested for kidnapping Lisa McVey, 17, as she biked home from her job at a donut shop in Tampa in September 1984. She was taken to an apartment at gunpoint where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, court documents said. McVey escaped and gave police a description of the man who assaulted her and his car, according to the court records.
Police linked Long to several unsolved murders in the Tampa area by matching fibres that were found on victims with fibres from the carpet in his car. He confessed to killing nine women, according to court records.
In September 1985, Long pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to death for the May 27, 1984, homicide of Michelle Simms, 22, whom he picked up in Tampa, according to the death warrant signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
During the same September 1985 court hearing, Long pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the abduction, rape and murder of seven additional women in the Tampa area in 1984, the death warrant said.
“I pull over, they get in, I drive a little ways, stop, pull a knife, a gun, whatever, tie them up, take them out. And that would be it,” he said, according to court documents.
Long has unsuccessfully appealed his case in various state and federal courts.
Long was the eighth inmate to be put to death in the United States in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an organisation that tracks executions.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)