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Kenova native's execution set for Thursday
Bobby Joe Long has spent more than 30 years on death row

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Kenova native and notorious Florida serial killer Bobby Joe Long is set for execution this week after spending more than 30 years on death row for the murder of nine women in the 1980s.

Long is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in Raiford, Florida.

"Classified Ad Rapist" Robert Joseph Long, better known as Bobby Joe Long, 65, has been on death row for nearly 34 years at Florida State Prison for his role in the deaths of nine women in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. He abducted, raped and murdered at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay area over an eight-month period in 1984.

Long received the death penalty for the May 1984 stabbing and beating death of 22-year-old former beauty contestant Michelle Denise Simms. He also pleaded guilty to killing eight other women in the Tampa area and claimed to have raped 40 women in three states. His killing spree lasted from March to November 1984.

His arrest came after the Nov. 3, 1984, kidnapping of Lisa McVey, 17, who convinced him to let her go before she gave police information that led to his arrest.

His known murder victims are Artiss Ann Wick, Ngeun Thi Long, Elizabeth Loudenback, Vicky Marie Elliott, Chanel Devoun Williams, Karen Beth Dinsfriend, Kimberly Kyle Hopps, Virginia Lee Johnson, Kim Marie Swann and Simms.

An observant McVey, who is now a deputy sheriff in Florida and told Mirror.com she plans to attend the execution, survived after being raped at gunpoint and held in captivity for more than a day before Long drove her home blindfolded.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the Florida Supreme Court turned down an appeal aimed at halting Thursday's execution, which had challenged the state's lethal injection procedure.

Long was born in 1954 at the former Rife-Ferguson Hospital in Kenova. He was born with an extra X chromosome, which allegedly subjected him to bullying

throughout his life, and suffered at least three severe head injuries.

After his parents divorced when he was 2, Long bounced between West Virginia and Florida for the remainder of his un-incarcerated life, although he did not visit West Virginia much, as previous Herald-Dispatch articles indicated.

At one point he attended Cammack Elementary School until suffering a head injury when he was hit by a car. After his recovery, he returned to Florida, eventually dropping out of a Florida school in the 10th grade to work as an electrician. In previous Herald-Dispatch articles from the 1980s, his parents, Louella and Joseph Long, said this is when his life started going downhill.

After dropping out, he was accused of trying to steal a car battery and raping a girl during that time. He was also hit unconscious and robbed by a man carrying a bag of bricks, his mother had told The Herald-Dispatch.

"Not many things went right for our boy. Some people go through life without everything falling into place. Nothing ever fell into place for him," his parents said.

Prior to the killings, he had married — and later divorced — his childhood sweetheart, Cindy, in the 1970s, with whom he has two children.

Cindy said his personality seemed to change after he received head, back and leg injuries in a motorcycle crash while serving in the U.S. Army in the early 1970s. She has since said in television interviews that he was an abusive husband.

"After the accident, he didn't want to be around anyone," she said after his arrest. "He was always sort of a loner, but after the accident he didn't go anywhere or do anything. The only people he wanted to be around was his family."

After the motorcycle crash, Long received an associate degree in radiology from Broward College in Florida and spent much of his career drifting between states, at one point working jobs, one of which lasted for about two months in 1983, at two Huntington hospitals. He was fired from the position due to "unethical conduct" involving patients, The Herald-Dispatch previously reported.

He was given the name of "Classified Ad Rapist" because he met his victims through newspaper advertisements, raping dozens of them in Florida in the 1970s. He also lived in California, where he is suspected to be responsible for several sexual assaults involving classified ads for which he was never prosecuted.

A study conducted by Radford University's Department of Psychology said Long's hatred of women had grown from a nontraditional relationship with his mother, who he said slept in the same bed as him until his teenage years, would dress provocatively and brought several different men home during his adolescence.

His parents had said if their son is responsible for the crimes, it was due to the personal trauma and head injuries.

"He's been sick for years. We tried to get him to get help, but he wouldn't go," his parents said.

In 1984, while on probation for a prior assault, he turned to murder, searching for victims by driving around areas where women were known to walk alone. Fiber analysis of red fibers found at the crime scenes connected Long to the murders after it was found the fibers came from his vehicle.

The fibers, along with McVey's statements, led to his convictions. On top of his death sentence, Long is serving one five-year sentence, four 99-year sentences and 28 life sentences.

Florida police said he was on three years' probation for an aggravated assault against a woman at the time of his arrest and he had a police record dating back to 1970. Kenova Police Department records showed he was arrested in November 1982 and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault and destruction of property. He was found not guilty of assault and had to pay $68 for breaking an automobile mirror.

While Long had spent time in Huntington less than a year before his murder spree began, current Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said Monday he is unaware of any connection between Long and unsolved homicide investigations or other crimes from that era.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHessler-HD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.


Agencies patrol Highlawn in search of unkempt properties

HUNTINGTON — Multiple agencies patrolled Huntington's Highlawn neighborhood Tuesday, searching for homeowners with unkempt properties and unsafe homes that needed to be boarded up.

It was an opportunity to pick up trash, note any blighted properties and let neighbors know the city is taking action against irresponsible homeowners, said Jim Insco, the city's Public Works director.

Police officers, firefighters, code enforcement officers and members of the city's Planning and Development Office, the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department all toured the neighborhood. Members of the Public Works Department's trash and sanitation division were there to clean up any trash and cut back brush. Insco called it a "blitz" effort targeting the 2600 and 2700 blocks of 4th Avenue, the 2700 block of Highlawn Avenue and the 2700 block of 5th Avenue.

"Every agency has tried to work in this area, but working as individual departments and divisions, we were just having a hard time making progress," he said. "So today we joined forces."

Although not many homeowners were cited for violations of the city's exterior property ordinances, members of the city did have an opportunity to let neighbors know how to report suspected violators. Violations include

high weeds, loose trash, junk storage, vacant and unsafe buildings and unlicensed vehicles, among other things.

"There's a lot of good people that live there and a lot of people that take great care of their properties, and they are living beside properties that are not up to code," Insco said.

They gave people information on programs such as special trash pickups and programs operated by the city's Planning and Development Office to request help with home repairs, such as new windows or assistance for new roofing.

Neighbors also had a chance to tell police officers about suspected drug activities and were given the number to the non-emergency, anonymous drug tip line.

Police removed four people illegally squatting inside a vacant home, Insco said. Someone from the city will return later to board it up. The city called out the city's electrical inspector, who shut off electrical service at another vacant home. Insco said it's important to remove potential fire hazards before they become problems down the line.

Several homes were identified by members of the Planning and Development Office as part of project B.A.N.E. (Blight and Nuisance Elimination). That program is seeking to tear down 100 unsafe structures before year's end. The program will soon surpass 50 homes demolished.

Insco said the city plans more blitz patrols within the city's other neighborhoods.

"We wanted to make a presence known that the city of Huntington will not accept the unsafe conditions that people are living in," he said. "We will not let the property owners let conditions become so dilapidated that they become unsafe conditions."

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.


Cabell BOE fires Meadows principal
Mize suspended since Jan. 17 following a school intruder incident

HUNTINGTON — After nearly an hour-and-a-half in executive session, the Cabell County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to fire Meadows Elementary School principal Connie Mize after an investigation into leadership actions at the school.

Mize has been on paid suspension since Jan. 17 following a Jan. 16 incident in which a man who was being pursued by police was allowed into the school during class hours.

The board voted to extend the suspension with pay through May 8, followed by an unpaid suspension from May 9 through May 21. Termination is to be effective Wednesday, May 22.

A parent eyewitness recounted during a Meadows Parent-Teacher Organization meeting in February that at around 12:45 p.m. Jan. 16, a man was buzzed into the building by a secretary without being asked for identification or to state his business, and he falsely identified himself as picking up a student.

The name he provided did not match any student who attended the school, and the secretary proceeded to list the names of students that were similar to the one he provided.

The man was asked to leave, and the parent, who was sitting in the school's office to pick up her child, saw the man attempting to enter the school through other doors.

Twenty minutes later, an announcement was made by Mize to faculty that the school was on a "practice" lockdown drill. Teachers at the meeting said they had never heard an announcement of that nature and that many of them were uncertain as to what they should be doing.

In February, Meadows' PTO submitted a no-confidence petition to the board critical of Mize's leadership. Mize was replaced for the remainder of the school year by substitute Principal Mary Campbell.

Campbell, who had been a longtime principal in Cabell County, had been retired and is not expected to remain at Meadows

for the next school year. No permanent replacement for Mize has been hired.

In other business, the board voted to extend the Personal Leave Incentive Program, which was piloted during the 2018-19 year, to the next school year.

The program financially rewards all professional and service personnel for each unused personal leave day accrued during the school year.

Eligible employees are awarded $75 per unused day and can earn up to $1,125 each year for a maximum 15 unused days. At a minimum, eligible employees will earn $750 annually through the program.

Superintendent of Schools Ryan Saxe has touted the program as a creative way to develop more competitive pay for district employees without assuming long-term financial risk.

The program incentivizes regular employees remaining on the job for as many days as possible, which becomes a cost-saving measure considering the cost of hiring substitutes.

In operations matters, six different building projects to be completed over the summer were also approved:

• New addition to Martha Elementary School, valued at $876,600 through bond surplus and local funds, awarded to Swope Construction.

• "Mantrap" entrance for Altizer Elementary School, valued at $219,999 through School Building Authority and local funds, awarded to Danhill Construction.

• Partial roof replacement at Culloden, Milton and Ona elementary schools and the Milton Pre-K, valued at $385,100 through the Permanent Improvement fund, awarded to PAR Roofing.

• Carpet replacement at Cabell Midland, Huntington High and Spring Hill Elementary, valued at $120,000 through the Permanent Improvement fund, awarded to Fabric Town.

• Installation of an emergency generator receptacle at Davis Creek Elementary, valued at $3,404.65 through the Permanent Improvement fund, awarded to C.J. Hughes Construction.

• Grant of easement to the Culloden Public Service District to allow access to Culloden Elementary School to complete a sanitary sewer project.

The Cabell County Board of Education meets every first and third Tuesday of each month. Meetings are always open to the public.