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Michael Edward LONG





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: The victim rejected his sexual advances
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: April 7, 1987
Date of birth: 1963
Victims profile: Sheryl Graber, 24 (flower shop co-worker) and her son Andrew, 5
Method of murder: Shooting / Stabbing with knife
Location: Muskogee County, Oklahoma, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma on February 20, 1998

Michael Long, 35, waived his appeals last year, saying he did not want to delay his execution any longer. He was pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m.

In 1 of his final interviews, he had said that "I am ready to go to heaven. It is best for everybody."

Sheryl Graber, 24, and her son Andrew were shot and stabbed to death in their home on April 7, 1987. Long said he killed the 2 when Ms. Graber rejected his sexual advances and screamed for help; he stabbed her 31 times.

Long wrote letters to Anita and Ken Rigler, saying he hoped they have forgiven him for killing their daughter and grandson. He blamed depression, drug abuse and alcohol for causing him to commit the crime.

Family and friends of the victims issued a statement just before the execution saying Long's death would close a chapter of a painful event.

The statement said that "we bear no malice or ill will. We only seek to be able now to go on with our lives an deal with the everyday realities of life. Michael said he had found Christ and we hope this is true. It will help all of us deal with this event."


Michael Edward Long

A man convicted of killing a flower shop co-worker and her son after she spurned his advances declared "the times of sadness are over" as he was executed by injection.

Michael Long, 35, did not apologize for shooting and stabbing Sheryl Graber, 24, and her 5-year-old son Andrew at her home on April 7, 1987. "I went there (Graber's Muskogee home) to get it one way or another," Long recently told the Muskogee Phoenix.

Long had asked that no additional appeals delay his execution. Long said he killed the two when Ms. Graber rejected his sexual advances and screamed for help. Graber and her killer worked together at a Muskogee floral shop. After a brief confrontation in her home, Graber was shot in the head and abdomen and stabbed 31 times. Her son also was shot and stabbed because he witnessed his mother's slaying.

He had written letters to Ms. Graber's parents in hopes they would forgive him for killing their daughter and grandson. He blamed depression, drug abuse and alcohol for the crime. "We bear no malice or ill will," said a statement from friends and relatives of the victims. "We only seek to be able now to go on with our lives and deal with the everyday realities of life."


Michael Edward Long

Thursday, 2-19-98

Unless he changes his mind, today will be Michael Edward Long's last day in prison -- and his last day alive.

The death row inmate, who has waffled during the past year about waiving his appeals, apparently has decided he is ready to die for the 1987 slayings of a female co-worker and her 5-year-old son.

Shortly after midnight tonight, he will get his wish. A combination of lethal drugs will be administered to Long, who has spent the last decade on death row.

"I'm ready to get out of hell and go to heaven," Long said in an interview last week.

Long, 35, would become the 10th Oklahoma killer to die by lethal injection since the state resumed executions in 1990. He has admitted killing Sheryl Sandra Graber, 24, and her son, Andrew, on April 7, 1987, after she refused to have sex with him.

Graber and her killer worked together at a Muskogee floral shop. After a brief confrontation in her home, Graber was shot twice and stabbed 31 times. Her son also was shot and stabbed because he witnessed his mother's slaying.

Long said he is a different man from the one who committed the murders. He said the change started 19 days after the slayings, when a volunteer minister visited him in jail. He professes a conversion to Christianity, but Graber's father doubts the killer's sincerity.

"He's got that jailhouse religion," Ken Rigler said in December after Long was deemed competent to abandon his appeals.

It wasn't the 1st time Rigler had attended a hearing on Long's right to die. The 1st time, in March 1997, the hearing was canceled when Long changed his mind, saying he didn't want "to take the easy way out."

By October, Long had changed his mind again. He asked for an end to his appeals, and on Dec. 3, Muskogee County District Judge Lyle Burris obliged. Long said the "terrible conditions" on death row at Oklahoma State Penitentiary fueled his desire to die now, rather than take his chances with further appeals.

At this point, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said recently, there is no legal way for Long to stop the execution. Not all the experts agree, however.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said there have been other cases in which inmates waived their appeals, then changed their minds after an execution date was set.

He mentioned a Georgia case in which the killer asked to resume his appeals on the eve of his 1994 execution. The courts granted his wish, and he lived for 2 more years until his appeals ran out, Dieter said.

"We've never had one like that before," said Judge Charles Chapel, who sits on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. How the court would handle such a last-day request would depend on the issues Long raised, Chapel said.

Long's attorney, Jeremy Lowrey, also disagrees with Edmondson's statement. Attorneys from the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System have the paperwork ready to seek a stay in case Long changes his mind, Lowrey said.

Long would become the 3rd Oklahoma inmate to be executed after waiving his appeals. The others were Thomas Grasso in 1995 and Scott Carpenter in 1997. He would be the 8th person executed in this country in 1998, and the 440th since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Long's final day's activities won't differ much from his normal routine, prison spokeswoman Lee Mann said.

"He'll have a fairly regular schedule, except he'll have more visits from family and he'll have access to the phone all day," Mann said.

Long has designated 5 witnesses for the execution. Mann would not identify them. However, Lowrey said he will be present.

Some of the victims' relatives also have asked to watch the execution. They will be in a separate room from reporters, law enforcement, prison officials and Long's chosen witnesses.

A Tulsa woman filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma this week because prison officials refused to let her be Long's spiritual adviser in the hours before execution. Jan Skaggs, who has been involved in prison ministry for 8 years, says she was ordained 3 weeks ago in the Universal Life Church, although she is a member of a Baptist church in Florida. She says prison officials rejected her because "Southern Baptists don't ordain women."

Skaggs said Wednesday she plans to be on hand to comfort Long's mother and 2 sisters.

(source: Daily Oklahoman)


Killer Wants Appeals Ended

By Barbara Hoberock - World Capitol Bureau

March 19, 1997

Inmate Seeks Own Execution In Murders of Woman, Son

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Muskogee County killer wants to end his appeals and be put to death for the 1987 killing of a woman and her 4-year- old son, the second death-row inmate in two months to seek his own execution.

Muskogee County District Judge Lyle Burris set a March 27 hearing to determine whether Michael Edward Long can waive his appeals. Long, 34, was sentenced to die for the two murders.

On March 6, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set a 12:01 a.m. May 8 execution date for McIntosh County killer Scott Dawn Carpenter. Carpenter was sentenced to die for the 1994 stabbing death of A.J. Kelley. In February, a McIntosh County judge found Carpenter competent.

In a short, handwritten petition dated Feb. 17 and addressed to the Muskogee County District Court, Long wrote: "I knowingly and intelligently waive any and all rights to appeal my sentence in this capital case and I do have the capacity to understand the choice between life and death."

According to court records, on April 7, 1987, Long went to the home of Sheryl Sandra Graber in Muskogee with the intention of demanding sex. Graber and Long had worked together at a Muskogee floral shop.

Graber let Long into her house but rebuffed his advances. Long stabbed her when she screamed. Graber opened the front door and yelled for help, attracting the attention of two neighbors but Long pulled her back inside. Two neighbors arrived and Long told them Graber was drunk.

"He stabbed her 31 times, twice breaking off pieces of his knife blade in her body and shot her in the head and abdomen," according to a Court of Criminal Appeals opinion denying an appeal in the case.

He also shot, stabbed and killed her 4-year-old son, Andrew Graber.

Long was apprehended nearby. He had parked his car two blocks away from Graber's home.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson prosecuted the case as Muskogee County district attorney.

According to the trial transcript, Long's attorney, Jim McClure, told the jury that Long believed women were inferior to men and subservient. McClure also said that Long had a paranoid thought process, believed people were out to get him and had personality disorders.

He was also immature and had a poor self image, McClure said.

Others testified that Long was depressed.

The murder was committed in the heat of passion, without premeditation, McClure told the jury.

In his petition to the court asking that the appeals be waived, Long said he thought an appeal was pending in the Muskogee County District Court.

Long said that three months ago, he discussed the issue with his attorney from the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System. The attorney "stated he would not assist in that process but would prefer to withdraw as counsel instead," Long's petition said.

On Feb. 4, Long wrote the attorney and told him to withdraw as counsel.

"I am unaware of the current status, therefore I am myself petitioning this court," Long wrote.

Bob Ganstine, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System executive director, said if Long's attorney didn't file additional appeals, the deadline for filing would pass.

The Attorney General's Office could then ask the Court of Criminal Appeals to set an execution date.

"Obviously, the Scott Dawn Carpenter situation -- that may have planted a seed in somebody's mind," Ganstine said. "It is not unusual for people sitting on death row to think about it."

The Indigent Defense System is drawing up a policy to handle inmates who want to waive remaining appeals and be put to death, Ganstine said.

"If we have a client that is competent and wants to waive the appeals, we will not oppose the decision of a competent adult," Ganstine said.

Thomas Grasso, convicted of killing an elderly Tulsa woman, was another death row inmate who said he wanted to die. Grasso was executed in 1995.



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