How Lisa McVey Escaped a Sadistic Serial Killer & Brought Him To Justice
Lisa McVey transformed the tragic experience in her life into something that accomplished good: She became a sheriff’s deputy.
TAMPA, FL — In 1984, Lisa McVey was a Florida teenager determined to kill herself on a fall night, but after a serial murderer stalked, kidnapped, and repeatedly assaulted her, she decided to fight back — and live to tell her story.
On November 3 of that year, 17-year-old McVey penned a suicide note and went to work a double shift at her job with a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. At 2 A.M., she finished, grabbed her bike, and left.
“I always took the same route on the way home. It was always dark, but it seemed darker than usual that night,” she recalled. “I’m pedaling my bicycle on the sidewalk, but a car blew a horn. I thought, ‘That was kinda odd. Why would a car go by and blow a horn? I’m on a sidewalk.’” She continued riding.
“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. It felt like three or four guys jerked me off my bike” McVey said.
However, there was just one man — Bobby Joe Long. McVey didn’t know it at the time, but she had just crossed paths with a prolific sexual sadist turned serial killer, who, as the so-called “Classified Ad Rapist,” violated at least 50 women around the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. He then ramped up his crimes and murdered eight women in Tampa. He'd later go on to murder two more, but for now he had targeted McVey, the girl who would bring him to justice and end his eight-month reign of terror.
“I felt a cold, steel barrel of a gun to my left temple. He dragged me across the street. I couldn’t see his face,” she said of then-31-year-old Long. “He got me to the same car I’d seen in the parking lot. He threw me into the driver’s side. I remember seeing a huge knife sitting in the middle of the seats. He blindfolded me, bound my hands, my wrists and my feet, and took my seat and reclined it back. Shortly after that, he drives off. Here I was thinking about killing myself, and now I was going to be fighting for my life.”
Long drove her to an apartment, where he held her hostage at gunpoint for 26 hours. “He raped me over and over again,” she said. “I lost count." But somehow McVey didn’t lose hope. During the unimaginable ordeal, she was secretly collecting information to help police if she were to make it out of the situation alive. “I had street smarts and I did everything I could to remember every detail of where I was and what happened,” she said.
Though her eyes were mostly covered with a blindfold, McVey had managed to peek out and glimpse the word “Magnum” on the red car she and Long had driven in for about 30 minutes to an apartment she could tell was somewhere near a wooded area. She even memorized how many steps led up to the apartment where Long held her captive. “It smells very new,” McVey said she filed away in her memory. Though blindfolded, McVey also figured out many aspects of Long’s appearance by feeling his face with her hands. “There were pock marks, a small mustache, small ears, short hair, clean-cut, kind of stout, but not overweight; a big guy,” she ascertained.
When he took her into a bathroom, she left fingerprints on every surface she could touch without him noticing what she was doing — in case Long murdered her and police needed evidence she was ever there. Much of the rest of McVey’s time was spent dealing with Long. “He was erratic: His demeanor was very aggressive. I did what he told me to do. I was afraid if I didn’t he would kill me,” she said.
McVey eventually asked him why he was doing this to her. His response: “Because he was getting back at women in general for a really bad breakup with another girl,” she said he confessed.
A victim of childhood sexual, physical, and mental abuse at the hands of a family member, McVey knew she had to gain her attacker’s trust and turn it against him. Finally, at 3 in the morning, he dressed her and asked, “What am I supposed to do with you?” she recalled, realizing this was her chance to play on his emotions. “I said to him, while I’m blindfolded and still tied up, ‘Listen, I know you said you’ve done this to other women before because of the broken relationship. It’s unfortunate how we met. You seem like a nice guy. I can take care of you, I’ll be your girlfriend, and I won’t tell anyone how we met,’” she said, talking to her captor “like a 4-year-old.”
Her plan worked. “He said, ‘No, no, I can’t keep you, where do you live? I’ll go ahead and drop you off in the area you live in.’ I think he took sympathy on me, but I don’t know why he didn’t kill me<,” McVey said. “He drove off. I pulled my blindfold down, and the first thing I saw was this gorgeous, beautiful oak tree. That’s the moment I knew my life was about to change for the good. I saw the branches of new life.”
Of the 10 Tampa Bay–area women Long kidnapped, McVey was his only victim to survive. Thinking back on the ordeal, she recalls, “I had wanted to die before and now I wanted to live."
On November 16, 1984, 13 days after Long released McVey, police captured the serial killer at a movie theater using information the teen provided about his car and appearance. McVey even managed to transform the experience from what could have been a tragic force in her life into something that accomplished good — both for her and her community: She became a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy.
“No one's going to get hurt on my watch," she said. "That was my motivation to become a police officer. I'm no longer a victim. I'm a survivor and a warrior."
Long, now 64, confessed to murdering multiple women, and he was eventually sentenced to die by electrocution. He is currently on Death Row at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida.
McVey, 51, said she will never forgive Long, and she is determined to witness his death. In fact, she’s planned out her outfit for when the day finally arrives. “I already know the T-shirt I'm going to wear,” she noted. "It will have his name on the front: ‘Long.’ And on the back: 'Overdue.' ‘Long Overdue.’”
For more on this case, watch the "Nobody's Victim" episode of Investigation Discovery's Surviving Evil on ID GO now!