Lisa McVey was just 17 years old when she was kidnapped during her bike ride home by a notorious serial killer and rapist, Bobby Joe Long. Long had raped at least 50 women and killed eight prior to kidnapping McVey. Lisa McVey went into survival mode and managed to escape her attacker after enduring rape and abuse for 26 long hours.
The Early Life of Lisa McVey
Lisa McVey had a rough childhood as she was in and out of foster care for years since the age of five. When she was 14, Lisa moved in with her grandmother who had an abusive boyfriend. By the age of 17, Lisa was no stranger to abuse as she had been molested and raped for three years by her grandmother’s boyfriend.
McVey worked at a Krispy Kreme donut shop in Hillsborough County, Florida and her bicycle was her only mode of transportation. Lisa decided to work a double shift to cover for another employee who had called out the day she was working. Her shift ended at 2 a.m. on November 3, 1984, the night she was abducted.
Lisa was at a very low point in her life at the time and had written a suicide note before she left for work the day prior. She claims to remember feeling free while riding her bike home from her shift because she was ready to end it all, until Bobby Joe Long jumped out from behind a van, causing Lisa to fall off her bike, and forced her into his vehicle.
Lisa McVey’s Attacker: Bobby Joe Long
Bobby Joe Long was a notorious serial killer and rapist, known as the “Classified Ad Rapist”. Long’s loathing for women started with the grudge he held against his mother who spent more time working as a bartender and bringing home different men each night than looking after him.
Long became increasingly aggressive towards women after he suffered a severe head injury in an accident. Cindy, Long’s ex-wife, claimed that his attitude changed drastically after the accident and he became extremely abusive towards her.
Towards the end of their marriage, Cindy claimed that Long would disappear at night and it later became apparent that he was out raping women. Long used classified ads to find his victims by inquiring about furniture for sale. He would request to stop by to take a look at the furniture and raped the women if they were home alone.
After Cindy and Long divorced, he moved to the Tampa Bay area and would seek out women in the Red Light District. The body of a young woman, Lana Long, was found in a field bound by ligatures by two young boys. Lana was an exotic dancer that frequented the Red Light District and was Long’s first known victim at the time.
A second body was reported to investigators and identified as Michelle Simms, who was also bound with ligatures. At this point, investigators realized they were chasing after a serial killer. Distinct tire tracks were found near both sites and red fibers were collected from the clothing of Lana and Michelle, but the evidence was not enough to form any leads.
Pressure to find the serial killer began to rise as more bodies started appearing over the next few months. Investigators spent months trying to find the killer with no luck until November 1984, when Lisa McVey was able to report her kidnapping and rape that would lead to the conviction of Bobby Joe Long.
The Night That Changed Lisa McVey’s Life
While riding home from her double shift, Lisa McVey was knocked off her bike, had a gun held to her temple, and forced into Long’s car. Upon entering the vehicle, Long blindfolded McVey but she tightened her jaw in order to make the blindfold loose once she relaxed so she could attempt to see anything that would help identify her kidnapper.
Lisa was able to see parts of Long’s car such as having white seats, red carpet, and the word magnum on the dashboard. Long forced McVey to perform a sexual act on him and then he took her to his apartment near woods where she thought she would be murdered.
McVey remembered counting 19 steps to the top of the apartment so she would know how many to take if she ever got the chance to flee. Long proceeded to take Lisa into the bathroom to bathe her and then raped her on the bathroom floor.
For the next 26 hours, Lisa was in survival mode and did whatever Long asked her to do. In Lisa’s mind, she wanted to trick Long into thinking that she cared for him so that he might let her go. While in Long’s apartment, Lisa managed to get information about Long that would ultimately lead to his arrest.
While she used the bathroom unsupervised, Lisa put her fingerprints on everything in case Long killed her so the police knew she was there. At one point, Long allowed Lisa to touch his face and she was able to feel that he had a short mustache and pockmarks. Lisa was also able to see that he had brown hair while they were in the shower.
Bobby Joe Long Lets Lisa Go
Long was extremely bipolar towards Lisa, nice one minute and then angrily yelling the next. He asked Lisa at one point, “What should I do with you?” Lisa made up a story claiming she had a sick father that she needed to take care of at home.
After being trapped and blindfolded in the apartment for over 24 hours, Long decided to take Lisa back into his vehicle, asked where she lived, and told Lisa he was going to drop her off. Lisa told him the street names near her grandmother’s home.
Long made a stop on the way and Lisa was able to hear beeping from an ATM machine. She also recalled seeing two signs for the Howard Johnson Lodge and Quality Inn. Lisa was eventually let out of the vehicle and told to wait five minutes before removing her blindfold. Before Long drove off, he told Lisa that her “ill father” was the only reason he let her go. After a few minutes, Lisa took off her blindfold and began running down the street terrified that any headlights passing by was her kidnapper coming back for her.
On November 4, 1984, Lisa managed to escape Long and returned to her grandmother’s house where she was interrogated on her whereabouts and beaten by her grandmother’s boyfriend. Lisa’s grandmother finally called the police after several hours and told them not to worry about her missing persons report and that she was making up a story about being kidnapped. Police told Lisa’s grandmother that they were required to investigate the situation.
How Lisa McVey Helped Police Catch Their Serial Killer
Lisa McVey initially spoke to a female detective who did not believe her story about being kidnapped because of her suspiciously calm demeanor. McVey requested to speak to a different detective and met Sergeant Larry Pinkerton, who was in charge of sexual crimes, and he believed Lisa’s story.
Police had a headshot of Long that was taken during a traffic stop before he was identified as the killer who committed the heinous crimes against the women of the Tampa Bay area. Police showed a lineup of headshots to Lisa and she was able to identify the picture of Long as her kidnapper and rapist.
Investigators were able to match the red fibers found on Lisa’s clothing the night she was abducted with the red fibers found on the other victims. Lisa McVey’s memory and ability to describe in detail what she had seen while she was held captive led investigators to a killer they had been trying to catch for seven months.
Investigators pulled transactions made from ATMs in the area Lisa claimed they had traveled on November 4, 1984 and all owners of Dodge Magnums in Hillsborough County, Florida because it was the only vehicle that had magnum labeled on the dashboard.
The detectives went down both lists until they heard a match, Bobby Joe Long. Twelve days after Lisa’s abduction, Long was arrested at a movie theater in Hillsborough County. Not only was Lisa able to escape a serial killer, but she was the key to solving a case that could have turned cold without her intelligent survival skills and keen eye.
Lisa McVey: Life After Escaping a Serial Killer
Lisa saw her escape from abduction as a start to a new life. She was put into a runaway center for teens and picked up by her aunt and uncle before she aged out. In 1995, Lisa managed to get a job at the Department of Parks and Recreation in Hillsborough County. Four years later, Lisa was transferred to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the same office that caught Bobby Joe Long. Lisa became a dispatcher and eventually a reserve deputy.
In 2004, McVey put herself through the police academy and became a master deputy. She would also go on to work as a school resource officer at a middle school to serve as a role model and educate children about safety.
Final Verdict: Justice for Lisa McVey and Long’s Victims
Bobby Joe Long pleaded guilty to his crimes and was sentenced to death by lethal injection on September 23, 1985. Long sat on death row for 34 years until he was executed on May 23, 2019. Lisa McVey attended Long’s execution and watched him be put to death from the witness room to get closure and felt that justice had finally been served.
McVey has numerous documentaries about her experience and a movie called Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey that came out in 2018. She has also given an account of her story through several media interviews. Lisa McVey knew the moment she was kidnapped that she wanted to survive and has spent the remainder of her time being the voice for the women who were not able to while educating others on how to be safe.