TAMPA, Fla. -- The arrest of a suspect in the sex slayings of nine women brought expressions of relief Sunday from go-go dancers and prostitutes who work along a Tampa nightclub strip.
'It's like I can leave work and not worry about getting killed,' a dancer who works in a club on the city's North Nebraska Avenue told the Sunday Tampa Tribune.
Robert J. Long, 31, an out-of-work radiology technician, was charged Friday with a string of murders of nine women. The slayer's victims apparently were selected from among the nightclub strip's dancers and prostitutes.
After his arrest, police said Long told them where to find the body of one of his alleged victims.Long reportedly was linked to the killings by analyses of carpet fibers found on the bodies.
The first victim in the chain was Ngeun Thi Long, a dancer in the Sly Fox Lounge on North Nebraska. Miss Long's body was discovered May 13. She had been bound and stabbed.
The toll grew to include another Sly Fox dancer, 21-year-old Kim Marie Swann, and two women with arrest records for prostitution.
As the connection with the nightclubs and 'street people' developed, newspaper clippings about the killings were posted in the Sly Fox along with a notice asking women to get rides home with friends rather than strangers.
'We would just make them mindful that there was a nut out there,' said Lamar Golden, owner of the Sly Fox.
Golden said he was relieved the suspect is not a member of the street community associated with the North Nebraska Avenue clubs.
'I'm glad it turned out he's not a street person,' he said. 'Street people don't kill each other.'
Dennis Valdez, manager of the Starlite Lounge, said Long's arrest removes a burden of fear from the women who work along the nightclub strip.
'It's hard enough for girls to work in this business. When you're scared, forget it,' Valdez said. 'Some of them are married, they're respectable. This is a job to them.'
One Nebraska Avenue dancer, Jeanette Bloomfield, said Long used to visit the Starlite when she worked about three months ago.