Bobby Joe Long
The First Body
A couple of teenage boys walking in the early evening across a field near I-75, southeast of Tampa, Florida, noticed a bad smell in the air. They went closer to investigate the construction area from which it emanated and realized that the blackened thing in the weeds they were looking at was not a deer or cow but the mangled remains of a nude woman. They ran to find their parents. Anna Flowers offers the details of what happened next in her book, Bound to Die.
Capt. Gary Terry and Detective Lee Baker from the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office (HCSO) came to the scene. They examined the remains and saw from severe bruising that prior to her death the victim had been severely beaten. Oddly, the rope tying her wrists was different from the rope around her neck. A white silk cloth found under the victims face apparently was used as a gag. And there was more: The young womans hips had been rudely broken to allow both of her legs to be pulled out at right angles to her body a pose apparently meant for shock value. It seemed likely that she had been raped, but that was for the autopsy to determine, if possible.
At the scene, investigators soon found a set of tire tracks that led into and out of the field. They cast plaster tire impressions and noted that the front and rear right tires had a standard tread design while the left rear tire had an unusual tread design. That could be helpful in the apprehension of the offender.
Medical examiner Charles Digg performed the autopsy and stated the cause of death as best he could tell as strangulation. He confirmed that the victim had been raped. It was difficult to tell her race or age, but he thought she might have been Asian.
In a move that was unusual for him, Capt. Terry contacted special agent Michael P. Malone, a fiber analyst at the FBI lab, who agreed to examine the evidence. Malone located a red trilobal nylon fiber on the scarf and concluded that it was probably from a type of cheap carpeting used in an automobile perhaps the one that had transported the victim to the dump site.
This incident did not get much press. Bernie Ward says in his book, In the Mind of a Monster, that it was buried on page 9B of the
Her boyfriend was briefly a suspect, but his alibi checked out. At this point, Lana Long was just one of a number of unfortunate girls getting murdered in the