Murdered July 8, 1996
This site is dedicated to the memories of
Jim and Zelma Long. They were a lovely
couple and much loved by everyone who knew
them. They were my mother and father-in-law.
I miss them every day as do their children,
grandchildren and everyone else who knew
them. What happened to them should never
happen to anyone. It is a shame we live in a
society where one word - murder is becoming
familiar to more and more families everyday.
We thought no one had ever suffered the pain
we had, but the farther down this road we
travel, we find it is a path frequented by
The reason for the creation of this site is
because their murderer, who currently sits
on death-row has his own web page where he
disperses poetry, advice and encourages
people to write and become pen-pals. We find
James and Zelma were married forty-nine
years. They were living their retirement
years in the same house they lived in all
of their married life. It was an ordinary
house, a white rambling affair that grew
throughout the years as the number of their
children grew. They were parents to seven
children, James Paul, Linda, William,
Angela, Martin, Christine, and Laura. They
were grandparents to fifteen, one being born
after their deaths. They were
great-grandparents to six, two more have
been born since, and presently, two more are
on their way.
How we wish they could be here
to rejoice in these happy events. For Jim
and Zelma, nothing was more important than
family. Without them we struggle to remain
just that. Murder has a way of throwing even
the closest of families out of whack.
Zelma Long was prom queen of her graduating
high school class in 1946. She was on the
short side with dark hair, twinkling blue
eyes and curves that caught the attention of
a lanky, 6' 4", blue-eyed, blond boy named
Jim. In 1947 she passed the crown of "Love
and Beauty," to my mother, a fact I found
out after marrying her son, Bill.
Zelma and Jim had their children in quick
succession, every two years until the last
two. During this time, she went to college
and began to teach elementary school. She
pursued her college education for many years
until she was close to a doctorate degree.
Zelma enjoyed children, loved being around
people and those who met her immediately
felt close to her. She enjoyed bingo,
traveling to Las Vegas and goin' fishing
with Jim and anyone else who wanted to.
After over thirty years of teaching school,
she liked to say, "Have suitcase, will
Jim quit school to join the service during
WWII. Upon release from the service, he
married his sweetheart, Zelma. After their
deaths we found a drawer full of letters,
all signed, Always and Forever. He had
written his sweetie (and she him) almost
every day he was gone in the service.
the service, he went to work for the
railroad, upon suffering a severe injury, he
changed jobs, delivering cigarettes and
candy wholesale for several years. Later on,
he ventured out and built a gas station on
67 Hwy near their home.
Among his hobbies,
he loved gardening and worked the ground
next to the home place every year of his
married life. His gardens were so big and
bountiful, often times people pulled to the
side of the road to comment on the lush
beauty of the plants as he worked the soil.
Over the years, he dabbled in peach and
apple tree orchards and honey bees. Many a
grandchild learned the hard way not to run
For fun he loved to bowl,
bird hunt, bet the dogs, but most of all -
fish. He and Zelma fished together and
against each other and anyone who would cast
a line with them to see who could catch the
most. You can guess who always caught the
most if he had to stay out on the lake all
day in the rain to do it!
In 1972, they were preparing to take a long
awaited trip to Germany. Just days before
the trip they received a phone call one
night that every parent dreads. Their son,
Jimmy Paul, age twenty-four, had been killed
in a terrible car accident. Zelma told me
years later, "We went on to Germany, but I
hardly remembered a thing the entire trip. I
used that time to pull myself together. I
knew when we came home I had children, some
of them still quite young, that I had to be
there for." And that was just the way she
was, always there for you, ready to listen,
laugh and make you feel better when you were
at your wits end.
That year they began something different. I
always thought because of Jimmy's death they
had to create a change in their lives. They
began to travel to a large lake in Missouri
in the Ozarks. All the kids went. Somehow it
helped, maybe it was the change of scenery.
Maybe it was the loss of Jimmy that they
wanted to do something to pull all their
children together because now they knew just
how precious life was, how life could change
in a matter of seconds.
From 1972 until
their deaths in 1996 the two were a constant
on the shores of the lake, boating, skiing,
fishing, swimming, barbecuing, sometimes
just sitting on the deck drinking coffee and
watching the duck traffic. No matter what
they were doing some or all of their kids
drove the many miles to be with them at the
water's edge. Even as they grew up, married
and brought back kids of their own, the
closeness with their children was
Jim and Zelma became known in their cove for
their annual holiday fish fries, where close
to one hundred, relatives and friends boated
across water or drove in to sample the
delicate golden fried crappie fillets and
wash them down with ice cold beer. On
holidays, their dock would sit lower in the
water from the weight of the many people
crowded there and along the shoreline. Old
timers used to swear they only liked fish
cooked in corn meal to a crispy yellow. Yet,
over the years, we began to fry fillets in
corn flake crumbs, while the old timers
would protest for the corn meal.
Often we wonder, why can't our lives remain
the same? Why do we have to endure change?
For years, our family seemed to be riding a
cycle of good health, peace and happiness.
One night it all changed, we were plunged
deep down a black tunnel into a nightmare.
Many a time one or another remarked, "This
seems like a nightmare we can't wake up
from." But it wasn't a nightmare. It was our
life and the horror story of what it became.
On a hot summer evening July 8, 1996, Jim
and Zelma watched TV at their home in rural
Jefferson County, while babysitting two of
their grandchildren visiting from out of
state. Their youngest daughter came to pick
up her children, anxious to get them to bed.
She gave her parents a quick kiss goodbye
and out the door she went =-Out the door, not
knowing this would be the last time she
would see her parents alive.
It was reported, "Like a page out of Truman
Capote's book, In Cold Blood," the
similarities were many. Within minutes of
their youngest daughter shutting the door
came a knock. Zelma answered the door. (We
will always think she answered, thinking her
daughter had came back to retrieve a
forgotten baby bottle.) Two young people,
the perpetrators, a brother and sister (no
relation) stood there. They said, "We're
lost." Could the older couple draw a map?
That's how the beginning of the end started.
Zelma opened that door, always one to help.
She chatted easily while Jim drew the two
lost young people a map. Upon finishing
drawing the map, a gun was pulled, ordering
the retired couple into the bedroom they had
shared for forty-nine years.
The perpetrator had recently been
(accidentally) released from prison, a term
familiar to him for the past ten to fifteen
years. Upon his release, he spent the next
three weeks planning a robbery and if
necessary, "murder." They both bragged about
the plan to different people. He brought his
sister along because she worked in a nursing
home and, "would know how to take their
pulse to make sure they were dead." He
ordered the old safe in the closet opened. Jim was so shook up he could not remember
the combination. Zelma offered to open it.
Upon finding no cash Zelma offered "bingo"
money out of her purse. Jim remembered
pocket change kept in a tin box on the TV
for holiday poker games. While the robber
hadn't seized the amount of cash he thought
he would, he listened as Jim begged for his
and Zelma's lives. Jim offered to write a
check for any amount if they would just
leave. He thought about it for ten minutes
at the foot of their bed where they both lay
shaking, face down. Then he decided, "fuck
it," and stepped closer and pulled the
trigger twice into the back of Jim's head
and then walked around and fired two more
shots into the back of Zelma's head.
Following an anonymous tip, less than two
hours later, the suspect was pulled over,
found with the gun, the small amount of
cash, the stolen tin. He gave a full
confession, as did his sister. For less than
$500 he had committed burglary, armed
criminal action, and two first degree
murders with the help of his sister, the
I have heard people whose souls are so
intertwined with love often die together. If
this is so, Jim and Zelma will be together
as in their long ago love letters, "Always
Update on legal status of case
On April 27, 1998, the defendant, Carman
Ct. I: Death by lethal injection.
Ct. II: Life imprisonment in the Missouri
Department of Corrections.
Ct. III: Death by lethal injection.
Ct. IV: Life imprisonment in the Missouri
Department of Corrections.
Ct. V: 30 years in the Missouri Department
Ct. VI: 15 years in the Missouri Department
Said Counts II and IV are to be served
concurrent with each other; Counts V and VI
are to be served consecutive with each other
and with Counts II and IV.
On July 6, 1998, Carman Deck's sister, Tonia
Cumming took a plea, disposing her case as
Ct. I 30 years in the Missouri Department of
Corrections. Ct. 5 shall be consecutive to
the sentence in Ct. 1 Ct. 2 shall run
consecutive to Cts. 1 and 5. Cts. 3, 4 and 6
shall run concurrent to each other and
concurrent to Cts. 1, 2 and 5. (This means
Tonia Cummings shall serve 35 years before
becoming eligible for parole.)
At his sentencing, Deck said he did not wish
to file any appeals; he changed his mind
quickly with the help of lawyers provided by
the state of Missouri. With help from his
lawyers he has filed every appeal possible
Currently he is working on a
post-conviction motion in the circuit court
of Jefferson County. If denied, he must file
a notice of appeal within ten days of
ruling. Then he has ninety days to file the
record in the Supreme Court. He has another
sixty days to file a brief. The Attorney
General's Office for James and Zelma Long
has thirty days to file a brief, and Deck
has fifteen to file a reply brief. After the
hearing there is time for a rehearing
motion. At that point Deck will have
exhausted his state remedies and may file a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus in
federal district court in St. Louis.
June 16, 1999: Motion for Rehearing filed
June 30, 1999: Motion for Rehearing failed
October 8, 1999: Mandate for Execution set
September 13, 1999: Writ of
Certiorari to the Missouri Supreme Court
June 27, 2000: Post-Conviction Relief
Hearing: Outcome denied.
Appealed to Missouri Supreme Court: Motioned
for time extensions three times
October 10, 2001: Oral argument at the
Missouri Supreme Court
February 26, 2002: Missouri State Supreme
Court upholds convictions, but voids penalty
Click here for opinion
February 2003: The Circuit Court of
Jefferson County will hold another Penalty
Phase trial to decide death or life in
May 1, 2003: Jury deliberated, handing down
a death penalty recommendation.
June 30, 2003: Formal sentencing. Case
disposed. Defendant received:
Ct. I: Death by lethal injection:
Ct. III. Death by lethal injection.
(click to view)
Wednesday, April 21, 2004: The
Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments
in the case of State of Missouri v. Carman
Deck. No. SC85443, Supreme Court of Missouri
resulting from his appeal from his penalty
Supreme Court Judges at this time are:
Ronnie L. White, Chief Justice; Michael A.
Wolff; Duane Benton; Laura Denvir Stith;
William Ray Price, Jr.; Richard B. Teitelman;
Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr.
October 19, 2004
No. 04-5293 *** CAPITAL CASE ***
Title: Carman L. Deck, Petitioner v.
Docketed: July 20, 2004
Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Missouri
Case Nos.: (SC 85443)
Decision Date: May 25, 2004
Opinion handed down May 25th, 2004. The
judgment is affirmed. All concur.
Click here for opinion
04-5293 DECK V. MISSOURI
Decision Below: 2004 WL 1152872
Are the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments violated by forcing a capital
defendant to proceed through penalty phase
while shackled and handcuffed to a belly
chain in full view of the jury, and if so,
doesn't the burden fall on the state to show
that the error was harmless beyond a
reasonable doubt, rather than on the
defendant to show that he was prejudiced?
Cert. Granted 10/18/04
Proceedings and Orders
Date: Jul 15 2004
Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion
for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis filed. (Response due August 19,
Date: Aug 6 2004
Order extending time to file response to
petition to and including September 20,
Date: Sep 20 2004
Brief of respondent Missouri in opposition
Date: Sep 30 2004
DISTRIBUTED for Conference of October 15,
Date: Oct 18 2004
Motion to proceed in forma pauperis and
petition for a writ of certiorari GRANTED.
March 1, 2005, members of the Long family
attended the case on shackling of convicted
murderers during the penalty phase of a
trial. It seemed ludicrous that we went
through a metal detector, x-ray, wanding,
had our photo-id's checked, checked in our
coats, hats, cell-phones and cameras and
went through another purse check (more
thorough than any airport) before being
seated in the courtroom with the United
States Supreme Court Justices to hear why a
person who murdered two people should not be
shackled. I'm sure my in-laws did not think
this man was a danger when he knocked on
their door asking for directions, yet in
matter of minutes he became one of the most
One of the Justices asked if he was a big
man? After being in prison these past years,
there is no doubt he could tackle anyone in
the courtroom should he have chosen to.
After all, he killed two people to prevent
being identified. Was his being shackled
cruel and unusual punishment according to
the Constitution? What about the rights of
the two people he killed? It's time to stop
bending over backwards for defendants and
start remembering our silent victims.
Another Justice inquired if there were
security guards in the courtroom? Yes, but
what could they have done in a courtroom
full of people to prevent this person from
taking a run for it? We wondered if the
defendant had been present before the
Justices, would he have went through as much
as we did to get in or would they have
wanted him shackled. After all, he is
already guilty, not us.
How could the jury have been biased by his
shackles when they expected him to be in
shackles? He did have a hand free to write
notes. I believe a jury is probably more
comfortable doing the job they are there for
with defendants in shackles.
It will be two to six months before the US
Supreme Court hands down its' decision in
May 23, 2005 - Update: The Supreme
Court tossed out the death sentence of a
Missouri man on Monday, ruling that it is
unconstitutional to shackle capital murder
defendants as juries decide their penalty
unless the state justifies the need.
The decision is expected to have
implications nationwide, as attorneys
challenge the sentences of clients who were
chained in view of the jury.
Carman Deck was sentenced to death for the
execution-style murder of James and Zelma
Long after he robbed the elderly couple in
their home near De Soto, Mo., in 1996.
During the penalty phase of Deck's state
trial two years ago, he was in leg irons,
handcuffs and a belly chain.
The 7-2 majority opinion was written by
Justice Stephen Breyer, who said shackling
implies to jurors that the defendant is "a
danger to the community" - thus affecting
their perception of him as they decide his
Dissenters Clarence Thomas and Antonin
Scalia warned the ruling would jeopardize
safety in courthouses across the country.
"The court's decision risks the lives of
courtroom personnel, with little
corresponding benefits to defendants," they
The decision doesn't prevent courts from
handcuffing or chaining defendants if a case
is made that they pose a clear danger.
"We're just thrilled about the ruling," said
Assistant Missouri Public Defender Rosemary
Percival, who argued the case March 1 before
the Supreme Court.
"It clarifies the balance that the court has
to strike, even in the penalty phase,
between the need for courtroom security and
the defendant's right to a fair proceeding,"
Percival said. "In a penalty phase, the
jury's looking for whatever clues they can
find as to what's in the defendant's mind
and his heart and his character. The
shackles tip the balance by making it appear
that this person can't be trusted even in
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon
disagreed with the ruling.
"If we're going to err, we should err on the
side of safety for jurors and other
courtroom personnel. I think for people who
have been convicted of first-degree murder,
public safety should be on the side of
limiting their ability to threaten or hurt a
juror," Nixon said.
He questioned whether seeing a convicted
murderer in chains would influence a juror's
sentencing decision, because "they know he's
a murderer, they know he's dangerous,
otherwise he wouldn't have been convicted."
Nixon said he wasn't sure whether there
would be another sentencing phase for Deck
or whether the state would have the chance
to show that the restraints were
When the case was argued before the Supreme
Court in March, Missouri Assistant Attorney
General Cheryl Nield said the Missouri court
had acted reasonably in shackling Deck as a
flight risk, because he had murdered the
Longs partly to avoid being identified and
going to prison.
But Percival countered that shackling Deck
was "inherently prejudicial" to the jury by
making him appear to be currently dangerous.
Court Order Issued
THE JUDGMENTS OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF
JEFFERSON COUNTY FINDING APPELLANT GUILTY OF
TWO COUNTS OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER ARE
AFFIRMED. THE SENTENCES OF DEATH BY THE
CIRCUIT COURT OF JEFFERSON COUNTY RENDERED
ARE HEREBY REVERSED, ANNULLED AND FOR NAUGHT
HELD AND ESTEEMED. THE MANDATE ISSUED BY
THIS COURT ON JULY 1, 2004, IS HEREBY
RECALLED AND SAID CAUSE IS REMANDED TO THE
CIRCUIT COURT OF JEFFERSON COUNTY FOR A NEW
PENALTY PHASE TRIAL. RESPONDENT'S MOTION FOR
REMAND TO THE TRIAL COURT TO MAKE A RECORD
ON THE NEED FOR AND THE MANNER AND EXTENT OF
THE RESTRAINTS USED AT TRIAL OR IN THE
ALTERNATIVE, MOTION TO SET A BRIEFING
SCHEDULE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF HARMLESS
ERROR OVERRULED. NEW MANDATE ISSUED ON THIS
DATE SENT TO THE CIRCUIT CLERK OF JEFFERSON
COUNTY. COPIES OF MANDATE SENT TO COUNSEL OF
RECORD AND MS. SHARON GLORE AT POTOSI
CORRECTIONAL CENTER VIA FACSIMILE AND
REGULAR MAIL. COPY OF MANDATE DELIVERED TO
THE MARSHAL OF THIS COURT.
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