LANCASTER – Two men were charged Tuesday with the capital murder of Leslie Long, a mother of three killed more than 35 years ago after she was abducted from the Palmdale gas station where she worked.
Terry Moses and Neal Antoine Matthews, both 58, were each charged with one count of capital murder and special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery, murder during a kidnapping and murder during a rape, making them eligible for the death penalty if convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
On Dec. 3, 1978, 20-year-old Leslie Long was working a Sunday night shift at a Chevron gas station, on the corner of Palmdale Boulevard and Division, when she was robbed and kidnapped.
Authorities said earlier that the robbers took money from a floor safe before kidnapping Long, whose body was found three days later at the base of a small hill just off the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway at Soledad Canyon Road in Acton, eight miles from the gas station. She had been sexually assaulted and shot.
DNA evidence ties both men to Long’s murder, according to Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef.
One of the men, Terry Moses, is currently serving a 25-year-to-life sentence at Soledad State Prison for an unrelated crime. Moses is also charged with two other counts of murder stemming from the Aug. 22, 1976, killings of Carlton Goodwin and Michael Fuqua and one count of attempted murder for allegedly trying to kill Kenney Guevara on Dec. 7, 1996, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The criminal complaint also includes the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders against Moses.
Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against the two, who are scheduled to be arraigned June 16 in an Antelope Valley courtroom.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
UPDATED 5/27/15: SUSPECTS WERE ACTIVE GANG MEMBERS
A press statement released Wednesday, May 27, from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau revealed more details on the Leslie Long murder case and how detectives identified the suspects after 37 years. Read the statement below:
On Sunday, Dec. 3, 1978, between 8 p.m. and 10:05 p.m., 20-year-old Leslie Long, a married woman and mother of three young children, was working alone as an employee of a gas station on Palmdale Boulevard and Division Street, in the City of Palmdale.
During those hours, two black male suspects entered the gas station with a handgun and robbed Leslie Long of an undisclosed amount of money from the store’s floor safe, leaving coinage strewn about the floor. The suspects then kidnapped Leslie Long at gunpoint, forced her into their vehicle and drove away, south on the Antelope Valley Freeway toward Los Angeles. After driving for some time, the suspects pulled off the freeway and drove to a deserted area, where both suspects then raped her. After the rape, the suspects shot Leslie Long multiple times, killing her. Both suspects returned to their vehicle and fled the scene.
During the manhunt for Leslie Long’s killers in 1978, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detectives were assigned the case. At the time of their investigation, detectives were unable to identify the suspect(s) involved in the horrific crime.
For the past 37 years, the criminal case remained unsolved, although having been investigated by various detectives. However, in an unrelenting effort, the case was again reviewed in March of 2006, where new leads, tips, persons of interest, and the re-examination of physical evidence submitted to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s crime lab left no stone unturned during the many hours dedicated to the investigation in the several years that followed. And with the great advances of DNA technology, the sperm of Neal Matthews and Terry Moses was found on Leslie Long, linking them to her death, decades later.
Suspect Neal Matthews, a 58-year-old Black male, was arrested on Thursday, May 21, 2015, at his residence in Lancaster. Suspect Matthews was booked at Lancaster Sheriff’s Station and appeared at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. He is currently being held without bail.
Suspect Terry Moses, a 59-year-old Black male, is currently serving a life sentence on an unrelated case. On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed an arrest warrant on Terry Moses for the murder of Leslie Long. Suspect Moses will be arraigned at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse at a later date.
At the time of the murder, both suspects were active gang members.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department would like to extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Leslie Long, and that a sense of closure, peace and relief can be obtained with the identity of two perpetrators who will come before the justice system. It is also our hope that with the continued advancement of DNA technology and the tireless effort of the men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in keeping the public safe, that these types of violent crimes are prevented.
If you have any information about this case, you are asked to please come forward and contact Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Homicide Bureau Detective Steven Lankford, currently assigned to the case, at (323) 890-5500. If you have inquiries about the booking photos, they will not be released at this time.
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