December 8, 1999
David Martin Long (46) is executed for the murder of his three roommates
On September 19, 1986, Donna Sue Jester (38) picked up Long as he hitchhiked. He explained he didn’t have a home and Donna offered for him to live at her home in exchange for making repairs around the house. Long accepted and joined Donna, her 64-year-old mother Dalpha Lorene Jester who was blind and required a walker for mobility, and another drifter Donna had invited into her home previously named Laura Lee Owens (20). Owens and Long soon began a relationship.
On September 26, Owens, Donna, and Dalpha had a conversation in a room away from Long, which, according to one of his statements, made him believe the group was conspiring against him. Long grabbed a hatchet and asked to speak with Owens outside. When the couple were out of the home, Long attacked Owens in the front yard, went inside the house to kill Donna and Dalpha, then returned to Owens to finish killing her. Long then cleaned the hatchet in the sink, wrapped it in a towel, left the weapon in the home, took money from the victims, and stole Donna’s car.
Investigators found entries in Donna’s journal mentioning Long, and his absence pointed toward him as the murderer. He was arrested on October 24 for public intoxication and, while he provided an alias, was identified through fingerprints. Long confessed to the murders, claiming, “I’m a cold-hearted son of a bitch and I killed them because they threatened my relationship with Laura Lee. I killed Dalpha Jester because she knew my name and I felt like she was living dead anyway.” Long’s rationale changed often, however. In addition to suspecting the women were conspiring against him and the alleged threat to his relationship with Owens, Long also stated the attacks were in response to constant arguing regarding his consumption of alcohol, and also claimed the home was filthy and smelled which made him believe Donna had killed other hitchhikers and buried them in her yard.
In court, Long told the courtroom his Pentecostal upbringing taught him “demon possession,” rather than mental illness, was more often to blame for such violent outbursts. He also described the experience of the killings as “satanic.” Also during court, Long yelled at the jury “I’m guilty as hell” and stated he would kill again if he was not given the death penalty. The jury took two hours to deliberate, convicting him of the three murders and sentencing him to death.
Long also confessed to two unrelated murders: the 1978 murder of a gas station attendant who was beaten to death with a tire iron after Long felt the attendant had charged too much for a tire repair; and the 1983 murder of his former boss who was killed “because I hated the son of a bitch.” The details provided regarding the murders matched evidence found at the scenes, though he was not charged for either murder.
Two days before his scheduled execution, Long attempted suicide by an overdose of antipsychotics. He was given a treatment of a charcoal solution to neutralize the medications and placed on a ventilator. Requests to delay his execution by 30 days to allow Long to recover were declined and he was executed by lethal injection as scheduled on December 8, 1999. During the procedure, Long began snorting and making a “gurgling” sound as a blackish liquid oozed from his nose and mouth. The scene was distressing enough to cause one witness to leave. It was later found this substance was the charcoal solution used during the treatment of Long’s overdose.
Carson, David. “Execution Report: David Long.” Texas Execution Information Center. October 3, 2002. Accessed: December 8, 2019. http://www.txexecutions.org/reports/196-David-Long.htm
“Death row inmate executed after drug treatment.” The Victoria Advocate. December 9, 1999
Yardley, Jim. “Texan Who Took Overdose Is Executed.” The New York Times. December 9, 1999
“Federal judge grants stay to Mexican inmate.” The Odessa American. September 17, 1992
“Jury Deliberates Drifter’s Fate In Triple Ax Murders.” Tyler Courier-Times. February 9, 1987
“Man Refuses To Plead Insanity In Hatchet Slayings, Convicted.” Tyler Courier-Times-Telegraph. February 8, 1987