Nearly 40 Years After Murder, Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing Gas Station Attendant

A man who kidnapped and killed a Southern California gas station attendant nearly 40 years ago was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Neal Antoine Matthews was convicted in September of first-degree murder for the death of Leslie Long. The married mother of three children was working a night shift in Palmdale when she disappeared on Dec. 3, 1978.

Her body was found three days later along a freeway.

The conviction includes special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery, murder during a kidnapping and murder during a rape. Authorities said robbers took money from a floor safe and kidnapped Long at gunpoint.

After her abduction, a driver stopped to buy gas and found coins scattered on the floor, according to the LA Times. Three days after her disappearance, a sheriff's department helicopter search team found Long's body at the base of a small hill in the Acton area, about eight miles from the station.

She had been sexually assaulted and shot multiple times.

A break in the case came through DNA evidence that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said linked Matthews, now 60, to the slaying. The case was reviewed in 2006 and detectives developed new leads.

Matthews was arrested in May 2015.

A co-defendant Terry Moses, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to three consecutive terms to life in prison. Both men were gang members at the time of the attack, according to prosecutors.

The trial was the second for Matthews after jurors deadlocked in June. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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