It took more than three decades, but convicted serial killer and rapist Bobby Joe Long was executed Thursday evening in Florida as two of his surviving victims looked on.
"I wanted to look him in the eye," said Lisa McVey Noland, who was 17 when Long kidnapped her early November 3, 1984, as she was riding her bicycle home from work. Long raped her and held her hostage for more 26 hours before letting her go, she said.
"I wanted to be the first person he saw," Noland said. "Unfortunately, he didn't open his eyes."
Long, 65, was executed at 6:55 p.m. without incident, a Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman told reporters. He had been convicted in the killings of eight women that terrorized the Tampa Bay area in 1984, according to CNN affiliate WFLA, and received a death sentence for the murder of Michelle Simms.
"Now, after 35 years, we can say we have some peace of mind, knowing that justice has been served," said Lula Williams, whose daughter Chanel was among Long's victims.
After the execution, families of the victims and survivors addressed the media outside the Florida State Prison in Raiford, thanking Gov. Ron DeSantis and the law enforcement officers and prosecutors who they said saw to it that justice was served.
The other survivor, Linda Nuttall, said there was "no describing how this moment would feel."
She and her husband had placed a classified newspaper ad in 1984 to sell some furniture. Long responded, and when he came to their home, he raped Nuttall while her two young children were in the house, she said.
"It's just surreal," Nuttall said. "But it closes another door for me."
"He got what he deserved," said Nuttall's husband, Kevin. "Today's just another chapter."
Noland, now a deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, read a victim's impact statement and asked everyone to remember those who died at Long's hands. But Noland said she had "no ill will" toward Long and that she had forgiven him.
"God has shown me the only way to really be free when someone bestows injustice against you is complete forgiveness," she said. "My life changed forever and for the better. I chose not to remain a victim. I chose to live."