These Five Brave Women Survived Serial Killers
These brave women beat the odds against murderers Bobby Joe Long, Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez and Richard Speck.
Lisa McVey Fooled Bobby Joe Long into Setting Her Free
Lisa McVey was just 17 in 1984 when she escaped the clutches of serial killer Bobby Joe Long.
Around 2 a.m. on November 3 of that year, McVey had just finished her shift at a doughnut shop in Tampa, Florida. She was biking home when someone in a vehicle honked at her as she pedaled down the sidewalk.
“I got halfway down the street. I noticed a car was in the parking lot of a church. I looked back at the church and next thing I know, I was yanked off my bicycle,” McVey said, according to Yahoo News.
Though she said it felt like three or four attackers, it was just one person — Long, who became known as “The Classified Ad Rapist” after he assaulted at least 50 women and eventually took 10 lives in Florida.
Long, then 31, forced McVey into his car at gunpoint, blindfolded her, and drove her to his apartment, where he raped her multiple times.
During the 26-hour ordeal, McVey did everything she could to gather details that would possibly help police find Long, including sneaking peeks at the car she was in and noting aspects of his appearance.
McVey resolved to gain Long’s trust after he admitted he kidnapped her “to get back at women in general because of a recent bad breakup,” she told A&E.
McVey used the information to pretend to be on Long’s side and then got him to sympathize with her.
“I gave him a lame story about my father being very ill, and I say he can’t kill me because I’m my father’s sole caregiver and he needs me,” she told A&E.
“Later on, McVey continued, “he gives me another woman’s shirt and tells me to get dressed. He asks me where I live and says he’s going to take me home. I don’t believe it. I think, ‘He’s going to kill me.’”
But the serial killer was telling the truth.
“Finally he pulls into the back of a business and tells me he’s sorry,” McVey told A&E. “He says, ‘Tell your father he’s the reason why I didn’t kill you.’ Then he says, ‘Give me five minutes and you can take the blindfold off.’”
“I’m just frozen — but when I finally take it off, I’m in front of a beautiful oak tree,” she continued. “I think, ‘I’m going to have a new life, and it will be better.’”
Police arrested Long 13 days later because of the information McVey was able to provide about his car and what he looked like. He was executed by lethal injection on May 23, 2019, at Florida State Prison.
McVey, now 53, has gone on to a career in law enforcement as a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
Kathy Kleiner and Karen Chandler Lived Through One of Ted Bundy’s Last Deadly Attacks
In 1977, Ted Bundy escaped a Colorado jail and was on the run when he broke into the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
At around 2:45 a.m. on January 15, Bundy, who had grabbed a log from a stack of firewood outside, crept into the bedroom of Margaret Bowman. He struck her in the forehead with the wood and then strangled her to death with pantyhose.
He moved on to Lisa Levy’s nearby room and raped, beat and strangled the student.
About 15 minutes after Bundy entered the sorority house, Kathy Kleiner, then 20, recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone that she was woken up by the serial killer tripping over a chest in the room she shared with 19-year-old Karen Chandler.
“The room was dark, and I didn’t have my glasses on, but I remember seeing a black mass. I couldn’t even see that it was a person. I saw the club, saw him lift it over his head, and slam it on me,” Kleiner told the magazine about the brutal attack that left her with a broken jaw and torn cheek and tongue
“The first time, it didn’t hurt. It was pressure, like someone pressing on your arm. And then he hit me again. And I think that’s where he hit me in the face and broke my jaw in three places and I passed out. But that’s what I remember the most: him lifting the club and bringing it down on me,” Kleiner continued.
Bundy also attacked Chandler with the log, leaving her with severe injuries and covered in blood. Before he could kill either woman, a sorority sister returning to the house after a date scared him off.
Bundy was caught one month later. The serial killer died at age 42 in the electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989.
“All the angst…I felt it lifting,” Kleiner said to Rolling Stone of learning he was gone. “I felt so clean.” The attack, she noted, “made me stronger, and it gave me more to live for, and it taught me nobody’s going to put me down.”
Chandler later told ABC News she hasn’t forgotten her two sorority sisters who Bundy killed.
“All you can do is just celebrate that they were there and that you knew them and they will always be in our memories,” Chandler continued.
Whitney Bennett’s Court Testimony Against Richard Ramirez Helped Put Him on Death Row
Richard Ramirez, also known as the “Night Stalker,” attacked Whitney Bennett in her family’s house in Sierra Madre, California, when she was just 16 years old.
On the afternoon of July 4, 1985, Bennett opened her first-floor bedroom window to let her father outside know he had received a telephone call. She closed it again but forgot to relock it.
Later that evening, Bennett went out to see some friends and returned home around 1 a.m. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and she fell asleep in bed with the light on.
During the night, Bennett woke up with a splitting headache and her room was in disarray, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Screaming for her parents, Bennett stumbled into the hallway and collapsed.
Investigators recovered a tire iron Ramirez used to beat Bennett, who had marks around her neck indicating the serial killer also had attempted to choke her to death.
Bennett beat the odds and survived the ordeal but needed cosmetic surgery and 478 stitches to close gashes on her scalp.
In 1989, almost four years after the brutal assault, Bennett faced Ramirez in court. Her testimony helped put the self-proclaimed devil worshipper on death row.
Ramirez was eventually convicted of a total of 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, 14 counts of burglary, and 11 counts of sexual assault.
On June 7, 2013, he died at age 53 from complications related to B-cell lymphoma at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California.
Corazon Amurao Managed to Hide for Hours from Serial Killer Richard Speck
On July 14, 1966, Richard Speck forced his way into the Chicago townhouse of nine nursing students. He bound them up, and systematically stabbed and strangled eight of them to death.
The ninth woman, Corazon Amurao, then 23, managed to run and hide during the assault.
"What she did that night, very few human beings would have the courage to do. She had the guts to move [under a bed], which saved her life,” William Martin, the lead prosecutor for Speck’s trial, told the Chicago Tribune in 2016.
When Amurao was asked to identify Speck in court, she walked up to him, pointed her finger “two inches from his forehead,” and said “‘This is the man,’” Martin recalled to the Chicago Tribune.
Stream the "And Then There Was One" episode of A Crime To Remember on discovery+ for more on this story.
Speck received a death sentence for the murders but that was eventually overturned and changed to eight consecutive terms of 50 to 150 years behind bars.
Today, Amurao “is doing very, very well,” Martin told the Chicago Tribune. “She laughs a lot.”
“She showed the indomitability of her spirit by continuing her path as a nurse and dedicating her life to helping others and raising a family, but you can never get something like this out of your life," he added.
Speck was suspected of committing multiple murders before the Chicago attack, including in Indiana and Michigan.
On December 5, 1991, Speck died of a heart attack in prison one day short of his fiftieth 50th birthday.
“He will not be able to get out, he will not be able to come looking for me anymore,” Amurao told Chicago’s WLS-TV at the time.