Woman who escaped serial killer Bobby Joe Long watches his execution

24 May 2019, 06:37 | Updated: 24 May 2019, 11:00

A woman who escaped the clutches of a serial killer and helped bring him to justice has watched him being executed in Florida.

Lisa Noland was 17 when she was repeatedly raped by Bobby Joe Long in 1984.

In the witness room at Florida State Prison, she positioned herself where she hoped he would see her.

"I wanted to look him in the eye," she said. "I wanted to be the first person he saw. Unfortunately, he didn't open his eyes. It was comforting to know this was actually happening."

After watching him die by lethal injection, she said she began to cry.

"The peace that came over me is a remarkable feeling," she added.

Another witness wore a polo shirt with a photo of one of Long's victims on the front and the words: "Gone But Not Forgotten."

On the back were photos of all 10 victims and the words: "The Ones That Matter."

Long stalked the Tampa Bay area for eight months in 1984, often leaving his victims in gruesome poses. Most were strangled. Some had their throats slit while others were bludgeoned.

After confessing to his crimes, he was handed 28 life sentences and one death sentence for the murder of 22-year-old Michelle Simms.

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Until Ms Noland was abducted at gunpoint outside a church, police had few clues to work with.

But she knew how to react to an abusive man after suffering years of sexual abuse by her grandmother's boyfriend.

If she fought Long, she knew it would enrage him.

She was menstruating and made sure she left blood on the backseat of the car he was driving.

Despite being blindfolded, she could tell when they were on an interstate north of Tampa.

At an apartment she was taken to, she counted the steps up to the second floor, and made sure she left fingerprints in the bathroom.

After raping her Long washed her hair, and she took the opportunity to ask what drove him.

He said he hated women after suffering a bad breakup.

She told him he seemed nice, and maybe she could be his girlfriend.

Later, he let her loose.

Today she is a deputy at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office - the same department she helped catch Bobby Joe Long.