A man who has problems ... and 'a heart of gold'
Robert Paul Long had a chequered past but a "heart of gold", a childhood friend said yesterday.

The former neighbour, who did not wish to be named, lived a few doors down the street from the Long family home in the Wollongong suburb of Corrimal East.

The pair grew up together and had stayed in contact until a few years ago when "things began to get a bit heavy".

"He was involved with a girl who had some problems with some underworld type figures," the man said from his Brisbane home. "One of them was her ex.

"At that time, he wanted some acceptance from his parents about his girlfriend.

"So I put Robert, his girlfriend and her child on a bus down to Wollongong, but the next time I heard from him, a few days later, he was back on the Gold Coast."

The neighbour said Mr Long had been doing some "pretty heavy things" by this stage.

"He was doing some crazy things, like trashing his girlfriend's house and slashing his wrists in front of her child.

"When he was a kid, he was always hiding under the house and doing strange things. He and his brother were both adopted and I think he was under a lot of stress about that.

"He always felt his brother was accepted by his parents and he wasn't. He got plenty of love from his dad, but he just craved attention."

He said the last time he had spoken to Mr Long, a few years ago, he was working on a property somewhere in Western Queensland.

"I spoke to his dad at Christmas and he said Robert was doing well. It's sad. I just can't believe it. He may have had some problems but he had a heart of gold. He would give you the shirt off his back."

Yesterday, Mr Long's parents were visited by detectives from the NSW Homicide squad, who were making inquiries on behalf of detectives in Queensland.

Detective Acting Inspector David Laidlaw said Mr Long had been a wanderer for a number of years, picking fruit and cotton on properties around Queensland.

He said Mr Long's parents had not heard from their son for "some time".

Mr Long's parents were unavailable for comment.