The sexual drive of Bobby Joe Long can be described in one word: unbelievable. But for a number of women in Florida, it became all too believable — and deadly. Bobby Joe Long believes that his troubles began in 1974, when he was involved in a very nasty motorcycle accident. He was speeding down a street in Tampa, Florida, when a car suddenly appeared in front of him. He slammed on the brakes, but it didn’t help. He was thrown into the car hard enough to crack his helmet. From then on, Bobby Joe says, strange things happened to his sex drive. He started to think about sex all the time — and to do it all the time, becoming almost satyrlike.
Before the accident occurred, he would have sex with his slim, pretty wife, Cindy Jean, two or three times a week. After the accident they would have sex two or three times a day, and Bobby Joe masturbated an additional five or six times. (This kind of sex drive is reminiscent of that of another murderer, Albert DeSalvo — who claimed to be the Boston Strangler—who used to have sex with his wife more than thirty times a week.)
Soon enough, sex with his wife was not enough for Bobby Joe; he wanted other women as well. Starting in 1980, Bobby Joe started to look at the want ads in the Miami and Ocala areas in Florida. He would find ads for furniture or televisions for sale, and then, during the day—always during the day, when it was less likely that a man would be home — Bobby Joe would go to the home, ostensibly to look at the item for sale. Once he was inside and sure that no one else was there, he would tie and gag the woman, then rape her.
Long did this more than fifty times between 1980 and 1983, and he became known in the area as the Want-Ad Rapist. Local task forces and the FBI went after him, but he eluded capture. As the rapes continued, he felt a rising sense of anger. He started to feel anger as never before. The slightest thing triggered a towering rage, which he would act out in bizarre ways.
Once, for example, his mother Louella was visiting and said something that displeased Bobby Joe. He grabbed her and spanked her like a child, an absurd, painful, and humiliating event for her. Noise also started to bother Long. The slightest noise would set off an explosive reaction.
Whatever was cooking inside him, in 1983, Long converted from rapist to killer — and then to serial killer. His first victim was a Vietnamese woman named Ngeon Thi Long. He somehow lured her into his car, then tied her up, took her to an isolated spot, raped and killed her, and dumped her body on the side of the road.
Almost any woman was fair game for Long, but he particularly liked prowling the strip joints, bars, and assorted dives along Nebraska Avenue in North Tampa to look for victims. However, there was one thing that all of his victims shared: They had to come to him, pick him up, or otherwise approach him. This was the way he rationalized killing them — if they picked him up, he considered them as manipulative, detestable whores, people who should be killed.