How Lisa McVey Survived Abduction by a Serial Killer

By: Sascha Bos  | 
As a teen, Lisa McVey went beyond survival and helped police apprehend a prolific serial killer. Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

In November 1984, at the age of 17, Lisa McVey Noland was riding her bike home from work in Tampa, Florida, when she was abducted by a serial killer.

But Noland didn't just survive the encounter; she helped police identify the man responsible.


Lisa McVey's Abduction and Escape

Riding her bike home from work one night at 2:00 a.m., Lisa McVey Noland was abducted by a man who would later turn out to be Tampa Bay area serial killer Bobby Joe Long.

"I was snatched off my bicycle,” Noland told The Independent. “I thought it was three people. It was that quick.” Working alone, Long forced Noland into his van, blindfolded her and took her to another location where he tortured and raped her.


Noland was able to convince Long to let her go by gaining his sympathy — she pretended to be the caretaker of a sick parent — and offering to be his secret girlfriend.

“I was like, ‘Listen, you seem like a nice guy, after everything I’ve been through,’” she told The Independent. “We can be together. I could be your girlfriend. No one has to know how we met.”

After 26 hours under Bobby Joe Long's control, Noland was released near her grandmother's house.


How Lisa McVey Helped Catch Her Abductor

Lisa Mcvey Noland did more than escape from a serial killer; she also played an instrumental role in catching the man who abducted her, Bobby Joe Long. Here's how she did it.

Adjusting Her Blindfold

Long kept Noland blindfolded throughout the abduction, but she was able to loosen the blindfold by clenching her jaw every time Long removed the blindfold and put it back on.


When she relaxed her jaw, the blindfold would be loose enough for her to notice certain details, like the word "magnum" on the dashboard of Long's vehicle, which helped police identify the car as a 1978 Dodge Magnum.

Memorizing Details

After Noland saw the word "magnum," she felt motivated to keep track of other details. "From that point on, I said whatever I see, smell, or touch, I’ve got to remember it. I’ve got to keep it in my memory bank, so that if I get out of this, I can go to the cops and give them everything I’ve got in terms of evidence,” Noland told The Independent.

This included details about her whereabouts (such as the direction they drove, the number of stairs leading to the location where she was taken and the time at which he used an ATM) and what the abductor looked like. (Through her loosened blindfold, she saw that he was white and wore a white T-shirt; when she touched his face, she noticed his small mustache and short hair.)

Leaving Evidence

In addition to her observations, Noland also decided to leave her own evidence for the police to find. She left fingerprints all over the bathroom and her used tampon in Long's vehicle for future crime scene investigators to find.


What Happened to Bobby Joe Long?

Noland worked with Tampa police for 12 days to help them identify and catch Bobby Joe Long. Long's connection to a string of homicides in the area was made clear when red carpet fibers found on Noland's clothing matched those of homicide victims.

She told them her abductor had stopped to use an ATM around 3am. Around the same time investigators identified Long as the owner of a Dodge Magnum (matching Noland’s description), they obtained bank records that showed Long had used the ATM near his apartment around 3am.


Arrest, Charges and Sentences

Police arrested Long less than two weeks after he abducted Noland. In 1985, Long pleaded guilty to eight murders (he eventually confessed to 10 murders and multiple sexual assaults).

Long was charged with eight counts of kidnapping, eight counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of sexual battery. Long received multiple life sentences and two death sentences.

Long's Other Victims

Long's known victims included:

  • Virginia Lee Johnson (1966–1984)
  • Michelle Denise Simms (1962–1984)
  • Artiss “Ann” Wick (1963-1984)
  • Ngeun Thi “Lana” Long (1964–1984)
  • Elizabeth B. “Liz” Loudenback (1962–1984)
  • Victoria Marie “Vicky” Elliott (1963–1984)
  • Chanel Devoun Williams (1966–1984)
  • Karen Beth Dinsfriend (1956–1984)
  • Kimberly Kyle “Sugar” Hopps (1962–1984)
  • Kim Marie Swann (1963–1984)

There were only two confirmed survivors of Long's crimes: Noland and Linda Nuttall, both of whom were present at Bobby Joe Long's execution by lethal injection in 2019.


Lisa McVey Noland Now

“It’s very empowering for me to be able to speak with other women and say, ‘Hey, this too shall pass. You’re going to be okay. We’re going to get through this together. I’ll hold your hand,’” Noland told The Independent.

Noland attended the Police Academy and joined the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in 1999, where she specialized in combating sex crimes, and works as a middle school resource officer and motivational speaker.


Noland's story is featured in:

  • "Smoldering Embers" (1997) by Joy Wellman, Lisa McVey, and Susan Repogle
  • "Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey" (2018)
  • "Surviving Evil" (2013)
  • "I Survived..." (2011)