Details of Disappearance
Long worked as a second-shift employee at Bibb Manufacturing Company in Bibb County, Georgia. Her duties included placing labels on sheet packages. She resided at her former stepfather's residence on Ashland Drive in the Bloomfield area of Macon, Georgia. He and her mother had divorced shortly before.
Long's mother said that she was attempting "tough love" with her daughter in 1991. Her mother said that Long treated her home as if she owned the property while they lived together. Long's mother suggested that her daughter find her own residence after she and her stepfather divorced. Long's relationship with her mother improved after they went their separate ways.
Long completed her shift at the factory at 11:00 p.m. on August 13, 1991. She drove her boyfriend's Chevrolet Camaro back to his house shortly thereafter. Long's truck had not been operating properly and she drove his vehicle to work. Her boyfriend saw her back to her stepfather's house, then departed shortly afterwards.
Authorities believe that Long watched the Arsenio Hall Show on television and wrote a three-page note to her boyfriend around 12:00 a.m. on August 14. She apologized for an argument that occurred and promised to cook him a lasagna dinner the following evening.
Long phoned her mother between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. She said she was going to go to visit Keith Daniel Loyd, a 21-year-old neighbor who'd attended her high school, to help him with a gift for his mother. She thought Loyd's request was odd and asked her mother to call her within half an hour if she didn't call her mother first. Long's mother said that she would be asleep by that time, and suggested they speak later in the morning. Long's mother reported that her daughter sounded annoyed, but gave no indication that anything was amiss. She has never been heard from again.
Long's stepfather returned home at approximately 3:00 a.m. after visiting friends in the Warner Robins area. He said that the lights were on inside the house and Long's truck was parked in the driveway, but there was no sign of her. Her stepfather discovered that Long's work clothes were lying on her bedroom floor and her purse, makeup and money were also in the room.
Because she occasionally stayed overnight at her boyfriend's residence, her stepfather was not initially concerned. Long often stayed out of touch with her loved ones for a day or two as the result of her work and social schedule. Long's boyfriend arrived at her stepfather's home during the morning hours of August 15 and asked where she was. She hadn't reported to work since the night of her disappearance and never retrieved her last paycheck.
Long's mother told reporters that it was uncharacteristic of her daughter to leave her makeup behind for an extended period of time. Loyd said that, contrary to what Long claimed, she never had plans to visit his house during the early morning hours of August 14 and he had not purchased a gift for his mother. None of the neighbors on Ashland Drive heard any unusual noises during the evening hours, with the exception of a few thumps and a door slamming at approximately 1:00 a.m.
Long scheduled an interview with a local company during the summer of 1991 and was excited about the possibility of working there. But when she called the company to confirm the time of her interview, she learned that no interview had been scheduled. It isn't clear if these events were connected to her case.
An anonymous woman called Long's stepfather's residence in 1992, claimed she was Long, asked for help, then terminated the message. Long's mother reviewed the answering machine tape and concluded that the individual was not her daughter. Long's stepfather said that he heard a rumor that Long had a secret boyfriend who resided in the Lake Tobesofkee, Georgia area in 1991. There was speculation that the man may have picked up Long from her home on the night of her disappearance, but no evidence has been located to determine if the man ever existed.
Months after Long disappeared, her mother got a call from a man who said Long had gone to a job interview at the insurance company Geico. Long's mother didn't know anything about it. She called Geico and told them about the call, but the company said nobody with the same name as the caller was working for the company.
Loyd, the neighbor Long planned to visit on the day of her disappearance, provided an alibi in her case; he said he'd been out with a girlfriend that night. He also passed multiple polygraphs, and although he was questioned multiple times over the years about Long's disappearance, he wasn't considered a suspect. This changed when he died by suicide in September 2017, on the day he was scheduled to be interviewed by police again. He was 46 years old.
Photos of Loyd are posted with his case summary. He left a suicide note indicating he was involved in Long's disappearance, and also implicated Melinda McSwain. She was Long's age in 1991, and they attended high school together, although McSwain was a year behind Long.
In October 2018, McSwain was charged with kidnapping with bodily injury in connection with Long's case. After she was arrested, Long's family said they didn't recognize her name. Photos of McSwain are posted with this case summary. She gave multiple statements to the police saying she was involved in Long's kidnapping and murder. In January 2019, she was additionally charged with malice murder and felony murder in Long's case.
Apparently McSwain told numerous different people that she had a role in Long's disappearance. But she told different stories about it, at one point claiming a known criminal associate believed Long was an informant and this was why she was killed. McSwain named different other people as having also been involved in the abduction and murder. Some of the individuals she named were later proven innocent, as they were either in jail or had alibis for the day Long disappeared.
In August 2021, after nearly three years in custody, McSwain was released from jail on a $100,000 bond pending her trial. She will be on home confinement until then. The judge who granted her application for bail noted the case against her was very weak and said he didn't think it was triable without further evidence.
Long was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but she grew up in Macon. She is a 1990 graduate of Southwest High School. She was interested in English in 1991 and considered becoming a teacher in the future. Her parents had her declared legally deceased in 1999. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.