Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bobby Joe Long

A Link?

A construction worker came across another female body on May 27, 1984, in a lovers lane near Plant City north of I-4 in Hillsborough County. Officials from HCSO arrived to examine the scene, and they soon realized this one was oddly familiar.

The mostly nude woman was on her back, clad in a green T-shirt which had been ripped up the front and pulled back, leaving her arms in the sleeves to bind them. Her wrists had been tied behind her back (also loosely), and once again a rope had been wound three times around her neck. Like the crime two weeks earlier, the ropes used to bind her and to strangle her were different types. The leash-like rope around the neck had been partially cut by a knife, possibly with the same weapon used to cut her neck and cheeks. Among her most serious wounds was a wide slicing cut to the neck almost a foot long that had severed a large blood vessel, and she had a massive blunt trauma injury over her left ear.

So she was stabbed, strangled, and beaten to death. Whoever had done this was shockingly brutal.

While this victim wore next to nothing, a bloodstained white jumper and white pantyhose were found hanging from a tree limb and were assumed to have been hers. There were also trace items of note: on the victims body was a reddish fiber, lying near her left breast, as well as several strands of hair on her stomach and under her right hand. These had to be analyzed along with whatever was under her fingernails.

Prints were evident at the scene: tire tracks and even a barefoot print found in mud. Plaster casts were made of all of these impressions, one of which contained a clear V along with more indistinct letters.

This time they had found the victim more quickly: She was estimated to have been dead for about 12 hours. The autopsy revealed that her skull had received five brutal blows and that she had been strangled at or near the time of death. She also had been raped. The official cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation and severe head injuries.

Ward describes the news item that accompanied a composite drawing of this Jane Doe, offering identifiers such as being in her late teens, 5-foot 5-inches tall, 119 pounds, with dark brown hair and eyes. The faster they IDed her, the better it would be for their investigation.

Michelle Denise Simms
Michelle Denise Simms
She turned out to be a prostitute. The victim was identified by another girl working the streets as Michelle Denise Simms, a 22-year-old with a drug habit. Having been in the city only two days, she was last seen talking to two white men near Kennedy Boulevard. Her high-risk lifestyle had made her easy pickings, as well as throwing up hurdles to solving her murder. Random killings were always more difficult.

Special Agent Malone also examined the Simms case evidence and noted clear similarities. There were good matches between the tire impressions from both scenes, so the casts were sent to an expert in Ohio, according to Ward. He said that the right rear tire was a Goodyear Viva tire, while the left rear was a Vogue Tyre, an expensive tire exclusive to Cadillacs. This kind of individualizing evidence would definitely help if they ever identified a suspect.

There was also a close match on the fiber evidence. The red trilobal fiber found on both bodies indicated that these two women had a killer in common. Malone also found a second type of red fiber in the Simms case, a delustored red trilobal fiber, which indicated that the associated vehicle probably contained two different types of carpet fibers.

One more important clue emerged: Semen stains found on Simms clothing indicated that the killer had an AB blood type. The hairs found on Simms were 8-inch-long, brown cranial hairs identified as Caucasian. They did not belong to her.

Since the FBI was already involved via the fiber analysis, it was but a short step to get the Behavioral Science Unit interested in the possibility of getting in on a serial killer case before it escalated.

No one then had any idea that theyd already been looking for this man as a notorious rapist. On June 2, the press ran a news report that indicated how seriously they were taking this investigation.

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