Robert Aaron Long, the man charged with killing eight people in a rampage at Atlanta-area massage parlors, spent several months being treated for what he described as a sex addiction and regularly went to massage parlors for sex, one of his former roommates at a halfway house said.
Tyler Bayless, the former roommate, said in an interview that he lived with Mr. Long at the house in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell for about five months beginning in August 2019. Nearly once a month, Mr. Long, who was then 20, would admit to Mr. Bayless and others in the apartment that he had again relapsed by visiting a massage parlor to have sex with an employee, Mr. Bayless said.
He said Mr. Long’s admissions were always paired with discussions about his Christian faith and his relationship with God and his parents.
“It tore him up inside,” Mr. Bayless said.
Mr. Bayless, 35, said he did not want to diminish the pain that Asian-American people were feeling in the wake of the attack and was only describing his recollections of Mr. Long to give people more clarity about what he described as the “religious mania” of Mr. Long.
Mr. Long was a member of the Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, Ga., where a pastor described him as one of the most committed members. A post on the church’s now-deleted Facebook page indicated that he was baptized as an adult in 2018.
During the manhunt on Tuesday evening, his parents recognized him in a surveillance image released by the police and called the authorities, leading to his capture, the police said. The authorities said he had been heading to Florida to commit similar violence at a business tied to the “porn industry.”
Mr. Bayless said Mr. Long told him he had tried repeatedly to stop himself from acting on his sexual urges: he used a flip phone so that he could not access pornography, his computer blocked pornographic websites and he had once even asked Mr. Bayless to take his computer from him.
Still, he did not stop visiting the spas. Mr. Long had told his roommates that his parents knew about his addiction and also suggested that he had lost a girlfriend because he did not stop visiting the massage parlors.
Once, after Mr. Long had relapsed in the fall of 2019, Mr. Bayless recalled that Mr. Long had called him into his room and asked him to take a knife from him, saying that he was worried he would hurt himself.
“I’ll never forget him looking at me and saying, ‘I’m falling out of God’s grace,’” Mr. Bayless said.
He said that Mr. Long had told the roommates, all of whom struggled with a form of addiction, that he had gone to spas run by Asian employees, and that other roommates in the halfway house asked him several times if that was intentional. He said he had chosen the businesses not because of the employees’ race, but because he thought the spas were safer than paying for sex elsewhere.
While at the halfway house, Mr. Long held a job in which he did some kind of work outdoors, Mr. Bayless said.
The two fell out of touch in early 2020, Mr. Bayless said, when Mr. Long moved from the halfway house for more intensive treatment at HopeQuest, a Christian addiction center.
“I think he just felt like he could not be trusted out there alone,” Mr. Bayless said.