Outsmarting a Serial Killer; Lisa McVey’s Triumphant Climb From Victim to Deputy

It’s the harrowing tale of survival not intended for those who are easily disturbed.

The decades' old case of Lisa McVey dates back to her abduction in 1984 when she was snatched off her bicycle as she was on the way home from her part-time job in Tampa Bay, Florida. The notorious serial killer, Robert “Bobby” Joe Long blind-folded her and held her at gunpoint as he forced her into his vehicle. Long took McVey to an unknown location where he abused and raped her repeatedly, holding her captive for 26 hours. 

A mastermind, 17-year-old McVey asserts that it was only through intense mental manipulation and reverse psychology that she was able to outsmart Long. She recounted the experience as she told Fox News that she would often say things to her abductor like “Listen, it’s unfortunate how we met, but I can be your girlfriend. I could take care of you, and no-one ever has to know.”. She strategically spoke to her abductor as if he were a four-year-old infant in an attempt to seduce him into letting her go. 

McVey reports that she learned this technique at home, where she was frequently abused within her family home, most recently at the hands of her grandmother’s boyfriend. “I had to take all of the abuse I had incurred as a child and just reach down one more time, into the pit of my stomach, and tap into those survivor skills to overcome him psychologically.”, Lisa remembered. "And it worked. Here I am.”, she said.

McVey Had Trouble Convincing Authorities 

Once freed, McVey went straight to the local police department in an attempt to report the crime. She knew she had to do everything in her power to prevent the serial killer from striking again. As if she weren’t already dealing with enough trauma, she had trouble convincing the local authorities of the events that took place. 

The official synopsis of the film ‘Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey’ reads “Once Lisa is safely home, she discovers police and even her own family refuse to believe her. It’s only when a veteran detective hears the details of her story that Lisa finally finds someone she can open up to. As they piece together her story, they realize that her abductor is the notorious serial killer that the Tampa PD is hotly pursuing. Since Lisa left a trail of clues, the police are on his trail, but will they find him before he strikes again?”.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Captain Gary Terry wrote in his FBI report that “the investigation soon led to Robert "Bobby" Joe Long, who was linked to the murders of 10 women in the Tampa area throughout the mid-'80s. He was arrested in 1984 and pled guilty to eight counts of murder, as well as the kidnapping and rape of McVey. He was sentenced to death, and per Fox, remains on death row today.”.

McVey Looks Back at the Experience as Having Saved Her Life

McVey tells sources that she was struggling with depression and had plans to end her life on the day of her abduction. She looks back at the experience as having saved her life, giving her meaning from despair. “One bad situation got me to another bad situation is what saved my life,” she said. “Because the night before I’m doing my suicide note and the next night I’m fighting for my life.” She believed that God had other plans for her. If she made it home that night, she had no doubt in her mind that she would have followed through with the suicide. 

“All my childhood I was abused, most of my life in and out of foster care for five years,”, she explained. “I was being sexually abused at home. My grandmother’s boyfriend used to put a gun to my head every time he molested me for three years. It was nothing new to me. I was brutally raped by this monster and I’m going to put it out there: it’s not molestation, sexual assault. It is rape. I endured that for 26 hours... I survived, got him caught.”. She had accessed an inner power that wouldn’t allow anyone else to take something from her. She was empowered to fight back.

Justice Was Finally Served

Justice was served on May 23, 2019, when Long was executed. McVey was in attendance and reportedly sported the shirt that had “Long” written across the front and “Overdue” written on the back. 

Lisa McVey is now a master sergeant with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office where she works as a School Resource Officer at Davidson Middle School. She now lives to help others, stating that “I’m right there beside my victim's families. I’m going to hold their hand and walk them through it. Just to be a role model and help make a difference in their lives every day, I learn something new, and they make a difference in me.”, she explains.

‘Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey’, The Lifetime Original Film 

The original film ‘Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey’ aired for the first time on live television on September 30th of 2018. It was featured on both the Showtime and Lifetime networks. Written by Christina Welsh and directed by Jim Donavan, the crime/ drama seamlessly weaves together the steps made by McVey which ultimately led to her meticulous redemption.

As depicted by the talented Katie Douglas, McVey goes from victim to survivor, and from merely surviving to thriving in the community as a leader for young women everywhere. Douglas effortlessly channels the terrors and the resulting intense emotional strength that characterized McVey’s experience during those traumatizing 26 hours.

The Sound Design of ‘Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey’

The sound department consisted of Michael Bonini (sound effects editor), and Brian Eimer (supervising sound editor).

The sound design for this film was carefully crafted to help the audience feel the terrifying ordeal that Lisa McVey endured. The soundtrack was designed to feel uncomfortable at times with creepy foley.  

Nominations for ‘Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey’

Along with the sound editor Micheal Bonini, ImagesInSound’s Brian Eimer is ecstatic to announce that their team has received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for best sound for this masterful piece.

To everyone who was involved in the process of creating this film, we must extend our deepest gratitude, for working on this empowering retelling of an incredible story was truly an honour and a privilege. 


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