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Decades after case went cold in slaying of Palmdale woman, man pleads guilty

Decades after case went cold in slaying of Palmdale woman, man pleads guilty
Leslie and Jim Long with children Jimmy, Karen and Christy in a family photo from 1978. (Los Angeles Times)

More than thirty-five years after the kidnapping and killing of a Palmdale gas station attendant, one of two men charged in the case pleaded guilty to her murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Terry Moses, 60, pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to the Dec. 3., 1978, murder of 20-year-old Leslie Long, Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef said in a statement. As part of the plea, Moses admitted the special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery, murder during a kidnapping and murder during a rape.

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Long had taken the job at the Chevron station to pay for a new bedroom suite in the home she shared with her three young children and her husband, her high school sweetheart. She had been working the night shift Dec. 3, when two men kidnapped her at gunpoint, raped her and shot her multiple times.

Moses and Neal Antoine Matthews, 58, were charged in the case in May — linked to the crime by DNA evidence. Moses also pleaded guilty to the murders of Carlton Goodwin and Michael Fuqua on Aug. 22, 1976, and to the attempted murder of Kenney Guevara on Dec. 7, 1996.

Moses will be sentenced to three terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole after Matthews goes to trial, Mokayef said. Matthews' arraignment was continued to Feb. 17; he is charged with one count of murder with the special circumstance allegations.

Three days after Long went missing, her body was found off the 14 Freeway at Soledad Canyon Road in Acton, eight miles south of the gas station. She was still wearing her clerk's uniform.

Suspicion fell on two inmates who had escaped a Northern California prison three days before the kidnapping, authorities said. They were recaptured, but there was not enough evidence to link them to Long's death. The case went cold.

DNA evidence excluded the inmates as suspects in 2011.

The district attorney's office and the sheriff's department declined to provide details about the investigation other than to say that DNA testing connected Matthews and Moses to the crime.

Follow me on Twitter @brittny_mejia

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