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Lisa McVey: The Incredible Story of Surviving Abduction
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Lisa McVey Noland is an American police officer who, at age 17, was abducted and sexually assaulted by serial killer Bobby Joe Long before courageously escaping and helping police capture him in 1984.

Early Life and Struggles

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Lisa McVey Noland's early life was marked by adversity and abuse. Born in March 1967 in Tampa, Florida, she spent periods of her childhood in foster care. At age 14, her drug-and-alcohol-addicted mother forced her to move in with and care for her grandmother. There, Noland endured sexual abuse by her grandmother's boyfriend, who held a gun to her head during the assaults that lasted three years. The night before her abduction by Bobby Joe Long, Noland was contemplating suicide, writing a note expressing her despair. Working at a donut shop provided a haven from her troubled home life, with her boss serving as a protective father figure.
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The Night of the Abduction

On November 3, 1984, 17-year-old Lisa McVey was riding her bike home from her job at a donut shop in Tampa, Florida around 2am when she was abducted at gunpoint by Bobby Joe Long. Long dragged McVey into his red Dodge Magnum, blindfolded and bound her, then took her to his apartment where he repeatedly raped and tortured her over the next 26 hours. Throughout her captivity, McVey gathered crucial details about Long and left forensic evidence like fingerprints to aid her survival, while also engaging him in conversation to humanize herself.
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Survival Tactics and Escape

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During her abduction, Lisa McVey Noland employed crucial survival tactics that ultimately led to her escape. While blindfolded, she purposefully engaged her captor Bobby Joe Long in conversation, using psychological strategies to humanize herself and build a rapport. Noland also focused intently on gathering sensory details about Long's apartment, car, and physical characteristics that could aid in his capture, like memorizing the direction and duration of turns, and feeling textures and counting stairs while blindfolded. She surreptitiously left her fingerprints on surfaces in his bathroom in hopes they would serve as evidence. After sexually assaulting Noland for 26 hours, Long released her in a remote location, threatening to kill her and her family if she reported him. But Noland's keen observations provided police with critical details, including the color of Long's car interior, the make of his car stereo, and the type of carpeting, wallpaper and countertops in his apartment. This information enabled police to quickly identify and apprehend Long, who was found to be the notorious serial killer responsible for at least 10 murders and 50 rapes in the Tampa area.
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Release, Disbelief, and Vindication

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After 26 hours of captivity and repeated sexual assaults, Lisa McVey convinced Bobby Joe Long to release her by humanizing herself and offering to be his secret girlfriend. She told him, "Listen, you seem like a nice guy, after everything I've been through. We can be together. I could be your girlfriend. No one has to know how we met." Long drove McVey to a remote location and let her go, threatening to kill her if she reported him. McVey made her way home and told her grandmother and her grandmother's boyfriend what had happened, but they refused to believe her story initially. Police Sergeant Larry Pinkerton specialized in sex crimes and was assigned to McVey's case. He found her detailed recollection of the abduction convincing and suspected her abductor was the serial killer that Tampa police had been searching for. McVey provided crucial details about Long's car, apartment, and physical appearance that she had memorized while blindfolded, as well as the forensic evidence she purposefully left behind. With McVey's help, police identified Bobby Joe Long and arrested him outside a movie theater on November 16, 1984, connecting him to at least 10 murders and 50 rapes in the Tampa area. Pinkerton and McVey developed a close bond throughout the investigation, and he helped remove her from her abusive home, placing her in protective housing.
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Bringing a Killer to Justice

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Lisa McVey Noland's courageous escape and detailed recollection of her abduction directly led to the capture and conviction of serial killer Bobby Joe Long. Based on the information McVey provided, police arrested Long on November 16, 1984. Long confessed to 10 murders and at least 50 rapes in the Tampa area. In 1985, he pleaded guilty to 8 murders and was sentenced to death for the murder of Michelle Simms, in addition to 28 life sentences. After over 30 years on death row, Long was executed by lethal injection on May 23, 2019. McVey and Linda Nuttall, another survivor of Long's attacks, were present as witnesses at his execution. In her impact statement, McVey thanked Long for choosing her and allowing her to live, expressing forgiveness for his actions. Determined to protect others, McVey pursued a career in law enforcement, joining the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. She has worked as a deputy for over 20 years, including as a school resource officer at a middle school near where she was abducted. McVey specializes in sex crimes and educating children on how to stay safe. As a motivational speaker, she shares her story to inspire other survivors. "I tell kids if somebody tries to grab them, scream as loud as you can," McVey said. "And if they get taken anyway, they should mind their Ps and Qs and do whatever they can to survive. I tell them to be strong and draw on their own sense of self-preservation."
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Believe Me: Lisa's Story Onscreen

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Lisa McVey Noland's harrowing story of survival and resilience has been featured in various media over the years. Her ordeal was chronicled in the book "Smoldering Embers" by Joy Wellman, which delves into the details of her abduction and escape. Noland also appeared on the documentary series "Surviving Evil," where she recounted her experience and how it has shaped her life and career in law enforcement. In 2018, Lifetime released a television film titled "Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey," which dramatizes Noland's abduction and escape from serial killer Bobby Joe Long. The film, starring Katie Douglas as Noland and Rossif Sutherland as Long, has brought renewed attention to her incredible story of survival. Noland was closely involved in the production, attending a special screening of the film in Tampa, Florida, near the site of Long's final capture. "Believe Me" has resonated with viewers since its release, particularly after being added to Netflix in 2021. Noland hoped the film would serve as an inspiration to others facing adversity, stating, "It's to show people how to embrace life after horrific things happen to you. Maybe physical things, maybe mental or emotional, I want to be an inspiration to others." The film's success has solidified Noland's story as a testament to the power of resilience and the importance of believing survivors.
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Surviving Serial Killer's Brutality

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Lisa McVey Noland's harrowing experience as a victim of serial killer Bobby Joe Long highlights the devastating impact of violence against women. Long, who confessed to murdering at least 10 women and sexually assaulting dozens more, received multiple death sentences for his heinous crimes. Noland's courageous actions, including using reverse psychology to convince Long to release her, were instrumental in bringing him to justice and securing convictions for first-degree murder. As a survivor of abduction, rape, and prolonged captivity, Noland's story underscores the trauma endured by victims of such violent crimes. Her resilience in the face of unimaginable circumstances serves as a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Noland has dedicated her life to advocating for victims and raising awareness about the realities of abuse, becoming a voice for those who have suffered at the hands of predators like Long.
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Closing Thoughts: From Victim to Survivor

Lisa McVey Noland's journey from victim to survivor to advocate is a testament to her remarkable resilience and strength. Despite the trauma of her abduction and the abuse she suffered in her early life, Noland has dedicated herself to helping others and bringing hope to those who have experienced similar ordeals. Through her work in law enforcement and as a school resource officer, Noland has been a fierce advocate for victims of abuse and abduction. She shares her story to inspire others and to educate children on how to protect themselves from potential danger. "I'm not embarrassed to say I was raped," she said. "I tell kids if somebody tries to grab them, scream as loud as you can. And if they get taken anyway, they should mind their Ps and Qs and do whatever they can to survive. I tell them to be strong and draw on their own sense of self-preservation." Noland's personal growth and transformation have been profound. "I'm not a victim," she declared in a 2015 interview. "I'm no longer a victim. I'm a survivor and I'm a warrior. There's no victim here." Her message of hope and resilience has resonated with countless individuals who have faced similar challenges. As a survivor of abduction and abuse, Noland has become a powerful voice for change, working tirelessly to support victims and bring perpetrators to justice. Her unwavering courage and determination serve as an inspiration to all those who have experienced trauma, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope for healing and transformation.
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