This Is When Bobby Joe Long's Life Of Crime Began

Bobby Joe Long was a serial killer who was executed in Florida in 2019 after being convicted of murdering eight women in the Tampa Bay area in 1984. Though he was only convicted of eight killings, the FBI maintains he actually killed 10 women. Prior to becoming a murderer, however, he got his start in violent crime as a rapist. Long was so prolific in his sexual assaults from 1980 to 1983 that investigators called him "The Classified Ad Rapist" for the way he preyed on his victims.

Long's violence against women started with his wife, Cindy Brown, following a traumatic brain injury he suffered after a bad motorcycle accident in 1974, according to The Department of Psychology at Radford University. He became increasingly violent and hyper-sexual. His wife ended up divorcing him, but not before he started searching classified ads in an effort to find women to attack. 

Long would look through local classified ads in several Florida towns where he didn't live and scour the ads for household items for sale, then call and see who answered. J.T. Hunter wrote the book "Deadly Deception" about Long's criminal history. Hunter said on the show "I Lived With a Serial Killer" (via YouTube) that Long would often look for bedroom furniture for sale as a means of getting into that room if a victim panned out. 

The 'classified ad rapist' had dozens of victims

According to Hunter, Long would call the number in the ad and "He would talk briefly to whoever answered. If it was a woman he would talk to them and get a feel for the woman and see if she seemed older or younger, if she seemed like a promising victim or not."

Long would drop questions about whether the woman's husband would be home to help him move furniture, but really he was fishing for information to gauge her vulnerability. If he went to a house and found a desirable woman home alone, he would attack her from behind and show her his knife. Then, according to Hunter, Long would tie the woman up, incapacitate her, then rape her. Often he would steal a victim's jewelry, bringing it home to his unwitting wife, according to what Cindy Brown told "I Lived With a Serial Killer." According to an Associated Press report posted by the Times Union, "The Classified Ad Rapist" was believed to be responsible for dozens of rapes.

Then, Long got bolder, or maybe he just didn't want to go through the effort of the classified ad ruse to find victims anymore. He began picking up random women he saw, often sex workers. At this point Long started killing his victims after he raped them and leaving their battered, bound bodies strewn around isolated locations in the Tampa Bay area. In six months Long killed 10 women before he was finally caught and convicted.