What Serial Killer Bobby Joe Long's Childhood Was Really Like

During the first half of the 1980s, Bobby Joe Long was one of the most feared men in Florida, a serial killer who is believed to have kidnapped, raped, and killed 10 women in the Tampa Bay area in 1984 alone. Prior to this murderous rampage, he supposedly committed at least 50 rapes from 1981 onward (via Murderpedia), with his M.O. consisting of him responding to classified ads in the local papers and sexually assaulting women if he found them alone at home. It was only after a brave 17-year-old named Lisa McVey — whom Long had raped and kept in captivity for 26 torturous hours — contacted the police that the so-called "Classified Ad Rapist" was finally arrested. After pleading guilty to eight murders, Long was sentenced to death and would remain on Death Row for well over three decades until he was executed by lethal injection on May 23, 2019.

When looking back at the backgrounds of history's most notorious serial killers, one would notice that most of them had it rough during their childhood years, oftentimes at the hands of abusive parents and/or schoolyard bullies or as a result of one traumatic incident or another. In Long's case, his red flags mostly showed up in young adulthood but he nonetheless had a difficult upbringing fraught with physical and psychological trauma. Here's what we know about the childhood and adolescence of Bobby Joe Long.

He dealt with multiple head injuries and a rare medical condition

As explained by ListVerse, Bobby Joe Long was born on October 14, 1953, in Kenova, West Virginia, to parents Joe and Louetta Long, who divorced when he was only 2 years old. During his childhood, which he largely spent with his mother in Miami, Bobby Joe dealt with physical trauma at an early age, having nearly drowned at a beach in 1957 — he would blame this on his mother, whom he claimed was too busy checking out men instead of paying attention to her young son. He then suffered head injuries when he fell off a swing in 1958 and crashed his bicycle into a parked vehicle one year later. According to Murderpedia, Long injured his head again when he was 7 years old and he fell from the pony he was riding, resulting in dizziness and nausea for several weeks.

Most notably, however, Long was born with an extra X chromosome, which prevented his body from developing as much testosterone as it should. Conversely, his glands were also producing large amounts of estrogen, and this caused him to develop breasts in puberty — a condition that made him a frequent target for bullies. He then underwent surgery to remove six pounds of excess tissue from his chest, but Murderpedia noted that Long still dealt with confusion over his gender identity. This, as speculated, might have been related to another dysfunctional aspect of his childhood.

Long had an unusual relationship with his mother

According to Bobby Joe Long's Murderpedia page, he had a strange relationship with his mother Louetta, as they apparently slept in the same bed until he was 13 years old. This only ended when he met the girl whom he would eventually marry, though multiple reports claim that she was the dominant partner in the relationship and that the women in Long's life would cooperate with his mother instead of competing with her for his attention.

While these accounts make it seem as if Bobby Joe and Louetta Long were unusually close to each other, Biography noted that the troubled young boy might have been developing a hatred for women at that point in his life. Allegedly, he was uncomfortable with the fact that his mother worked at a bar and was required to wear revealing outfits; it's also been claimed that he resented the men she would bring home with him. Later on, Louetta denied her son's accusations that he had to watch while she entertained these men in their one-bedroom apartment.

Although the following events technically took place a few years after Long's childhood, he suffered yet another serious head injury as a young adult when he was involved in a motorcycle crash. According to his then-wife Cynthia, he became violent toward her and their children after the accident; he also developed an uncontrollable sex drive that crime analysts would later suggest turned him into a sexual sadist.