TAMPA, Fla. — Catholics across Florida are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to commute the death sentence of convicted serial killer Bobby Joe Long, who is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening.


Long is scheduled to be executed on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison.

He received the death penalty for the murder of Michelle Simms, 22, who was found dead in Plant City.

Law enforcement believes he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay area in the 1980's.

However, Catholic churches across the state are speaking out against putting Long to death.

They held prayer services on Wednesday night to pray for Long, his victims and their families.

"We thought it would be very important to bring down the work of the spirit of God for the people who have been touched by this crime," said Father William Fickel, who led a service at St. Vincent De Paul in Holiday.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops also sent Governor Ron DeSantis a letter urging him to consider a life sentence without parole for Long, instead.

Part of the letter said "Although he caused much harm, society has been safe from his aggressive acts in the decades of his incarceration. The cycle of violence-to which Mr. Long's acts have contributed- must end. His execution would only perpetuate it."

The Diocese of St. Petersburg put out a message on Twitter.

They said Long deserves to be punished for his crimes but also called for a life sentence, ending the tweet with the hashtag #endthedealthpeanlty.



Fickel said he realizes it's a controversial stance, but he said it's his belief.

He also said he will continue to pray for everyone involved.

"Oftentimes forgiveness is what brings healing," he said.

The radio station Spirit FM 90.5 plans to pray on-air Thursday night beginning at 5:50 p.m.