"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
It was the 3rd of November 1984. A Saturday. Seventeen year old Lisa McVey had just finished a double shift at Krispy Kreme donut shop in Tampa, Florida, United States. It was around 2 am when she left the shop and got on her bicycle to cycle back home. That was to be her last time working there as the night before, Lisa had written a suicide note and she planned to end her life when she got home.
Lisa had had a lot to deal with in her life. She was abused from a young age and had been in and out of foster care for five years. According to Lisa, her grandmother's boyfriend sexually abused her for three years. He put a gun to her head every time he abused her. Abuse and violence were nothing new for Lisa. But when confronted with it again on the night of the 3rd of November, Lisa knew she had to fight for survival.
As Lisa cycled towards her home, she had to pass a Church parking lot. As she did so, a hand grabbed her and pulled her off the bicycle. She felt the familiar cold tip of a pistol pressed against her left temple but this time it wasn't her grandmother's boyfriend threatening her. It was a stranger. The man dragged her to his car, a red Dodge Magnum. He forced her to undress and then he bound her and put a blindfold on her and drove to his apartment.
Lisa couldn't see much due to the blindfold but she observed some things like the color of his car, the fact it had red carpet inside and she counted the number of steps it took when walking up the stairs to his apartment in the complex.
For a total of twenty six hours, Lisa was held at gunpoint in the man's apartment. She was repeatedly raped. Lisa, even though she was terrified, began to speak to the man as if she liked him. She told him she would take care of him and look after him. When the man put Lisa's hands on his face, she noted:
"There were pockmarks, a small mustache, small ears, short hair, clean cut, kind of stout, but not overweight; a big guy."
Lisa told the man that her father was sick and she was the only one who could care for him. It wasn't true but she desperately wanted him to think that he should let her go. It worked. At 4.30 am the next morning, the man decided to let her go. He took her back to a spot at Hillsborough and Rome avenues, near to where Lisa lived. Lisa went straight home, told her grandmother and her grandmother’s boyfriend what happened but her grandmother's boyfriend thought she was lying. Lisa went to the police and they believed her.
Red Dodge Magnum
Lisa did not know who the man was but she gave the police all of the details that she could. She told them about an ATM stop the man made and about the red carpet inside the car. Police observed that Lisa's clothes also contained the same tiny red fibers that other victims in cases they were investigating had on them.
Police looked through registration records for hundreds of Dodge Magnums in the area. As they were investigating, over the course of a few days, two women, eighteen year old Virginia Lee Johnson and twenty one year old Kim Marie Swann went missing and were found murdered. Police believed that the man who raped Lisa was the man who murdered the two women and the same red fibers were found.
Police found the red Dodge Magnum they believed they were looking for and began a thirty six hour surveillance operation. On the 16th of November 1984, police arrested Bobby Joe Long.
Bobby Joe Long
Police now had the man who had terrorized not just Lisa but the entire Tampa area. Lisa was only one of his many victims. After the arrest, Bobby was convicted of killing eight women but actually confessed to ten murders. He also sexually assaulted many more women.
He pleaded guilty to the murder of eight women: Ngeun Thi "Peggy" Long, Michelle Denise Simms, Elizabeth Loudenback, Vicky Marie Elliott, Chanel Devon Williams, Karen Dinsfriend, Kimberly Kyle Hopps, Kim Marie Swann. In exchange, he received life sentences, except in relation to Michelle's murder. He received the death penalty for that crime.
He was also sentenced to death in the murder of eighteen year old Virginia Lee Johnson in Pasco County. The Florida Supreme Court overturned that sentence and acquitted him on appeal.
After spending thirty four years on death row, Bobby was executed by the State for the 1984 murder of former beauty pageant contestant Michelle Denise Simms.
Bobby Joe Long died without saying a word.He kept his eyes closed. He was pronounced dead at 6.55 pm inside the death chamber at Florida State Prison.
It is believed that Bobby attacked dozens more women. He was known as the "Classified Ad Rapist." Bobby would look through newspaper ads for women selling furniture, pretend to be interested so he could gain access to their homes and once inside, he would rape them. One of the survivors of those attacks is Linda Nutgall. She posted an ad in the newspaper to sell some furniture and Bobby responded to it the week of Memorial Day in 1984 and went to her Palm Harbor home. She was at home at the time with her one year old daughter and four year old son and he raped her.
That day, the 3rd of November 1984, Lisa McVey was faced with a decision; fight or flight. She chose to fight. Even though Lisa had been abused her whole life and felt so empty that she was about to end her own life, when confronted with another predator, she decided that she would not allow anyone else to take anything from her and she went into fight mode. Everything she did from the moment she was abducted was about surviving. And that's exactly what she did. Lisa went on to become a police officer and a deputy so that she can help others survive.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello