Escaping a serial killer: "I'm a survivor"

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Serial killer Bobby Joe Long is believed to have killed at least 10 women in the Tampa area in the mid-1980s. He sits on Florida's death row, but the one that got away turned the tables on Long.

Lisa McVey Noland was 17 when she got a job working nights at a doughnut shop. Lisa rode her bicycle home from work at night and she worried about falling victim to the killer.

"And then you think, 'It can't happen to me,' but it did." 

LINK: "Long overdue:" Florida serial killer executed after 34 years

And so begins Lisa's amazing story: How she escaped from a notorious serial killer. 


On the night of November 3, 1984, Lisa was riding home when a man knocked her off her bike and pulled her into his car.

"I remember pleading with God -- whatever you do, just don't let him kill me."

She would later learn that her captor was Long, the sadistic killer who tortured women before he dumped their bodies. He blindfolded Lisa and tied her up.

"He held me for 26 hours at gunpoint. He raped me over and over again. I lost count."

But in a strange twist of suffering, Lisa believes her early experience of being the victim of child sexual abuse by a relative's boyfriend helped her talk Long out of killing her.

"I said, '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 says she talked to him gently -- "like a 4-year-old. And it worked."


Lisa says she also remembered things she'd seen on detective shows on TV. Under her blindfold, she got a glimpse of the "Magnum" nameplate on Long's car. She counted the number of stairs to his apartment and made sure to put her fingerprints all over his bathroom.

"At one time he placed my hands on his face. There were pockmarks, a small mustache, small ears, short hair, clean-cut, kind of stout, but not overweight; a big guy."

It's all information she would later pass along to police.

At one point, she said she told Long that she had a sick father that only she could care for. He finally took her back to a spot at Hillsborough and Rome avenues, not far from where it all began.

MORE: Florida serial killer's former wife recalls violent attacks

"So 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."


%INLINE%Lisa's new life took her full circle. More than 30 years later, she is behind the wheel of a white Dodge Charger with green and gold stripes with lights on top. She's a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy. 

I'm in the passenger seat as Lisa tells me who she's become.

"A protector. No one's going to get hurt on my watch," she said.

Her terrible experiences as a girl -- first sexual abuse, then being abducted and raped by a serial killer --  is more than almost anyone can imagine. 

"That was my motivation to become a police officer,"  Lisa continued. "I'm no longer a victim."

She's been a deputy for 17 years. For the past several years she's been a school resource deputy working at a middle school not far from where it all happened.

LINK: Execution does not bring closure for family of Kim Swann, victim of Bobby Joe Long

"These are my kids," she tells me as we walk through a hallway at Buchanan Middle School.

Many of the students know her well and some have even learned her story of survival.


It hasn't been easy for Lisa. She says she has PTSD and has fought bouts of depression. But she says the nightmares come less often than they used to.

"In my dreams, I'm always being hurt," said, fighting back tears -- the only tears in the several hours I spent with her. 

She told me her goal is simple, but yet very difficult after all that's happened.

"Just to be able to let that pain go and be healed," she said, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.

%INLINE%In 2015, Bobby Joe Long had been on Florida's death row for decades.

I asked her if she would attend his execution. She didn't hesitate for a moment.

"Yes," she told me. "And I already know the T-shirt I'm going to wear. It will have his name on the front -- Long -- and on the back -- 'Overdue.' Long Overdue," she explained, drawing an exclamation point in the air.

MORE: Serial killer complains to judge about being 'tortured' on death row

There's no doubt that she'll be first in line to witness the execution.

"I'm a survivor," she added, "and a warrior. There's no victim here."

Since this story's original publication, Long was executed by the state of Florida. Lisa was there, alongside other victims' families.