Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bobby Joe Long

A Survivor

Investigators busily interviewed people and watched suspicious areas along the Tampa Strip. They used their evidence and the FBI profile of the killer to narrow their search, but to no avail. The killers identity eluded them.

Then 17-year-old Lisa McVey was abducted. While all of the published accounts of this case cover this tale, the victim herself has helped to write, Smoldering Embers, her own book about it. She had survived the serial killer and was able to tell the police what she knew.

Lisa McVey
Lisa McVey
While on her way home from work during the evening of November 3, 1984, Lisa was grabbed off her bicycle and tied up by someone hiding in the bushes along the road. He had a gun and said that he also had a knife. He quickly blindfolded her and forced her into his car. She was certain he meant to kill her.

She begged him not to hurt her and said that she would do whatever he wanted. He ordered her to remove her clothes in his car and to perform oral sex on him. He drove her around for a while, says Joel Norris in Serial Killers, and eventually brought her back to his apartment, where he kept her hostage. Her entire ordeal lasted 26 hours, as he repeatedly raped her, fondled her, forced her to perform sex acts on him, and even made her shower with him. He told her repeatedly that he did not want to hurt her.

Joel Norris's Serial Killers
Joel Norris's Serial Killers
But despite her terror, Lisa managed to keep her head clear. She looked for opportunities to find this man again if she ever got free. At one point, her kidnapper stopped at an automatic teller machine to get some cash, so she peered under the blindfold at the dashboard and memorized what she could see of the cars interior. She continued to get quick glimpses as they arrived at a white stucco building and went up some red steps.

Although the man insisted that she keep her eyes shut as he abused her, she managed to get a look at her surroundings. She also dropped a barrette next to the bed, unnoticed, to prove that she had been there.

After a marathon rape session, her attacker dozed off. When he woke up, he said he now trusted her. She sensed that when they talked, he relaxed and was less brutal with her. He stopped referring to her as bitch and started calling her Babe. He even said he wished he could keep her. She had no idea what he intended to do, but she found ways to keep him from getting angry.

Then he seemed to lose interest. He took her back into his car and now she knew she would find out if she was to live or die. To her surprise, he stopped the car and told her to get out. He let her go, telling her, Take care.

Lisa wasted no time in getting home. She woke her father, told him what happened, and he called the police. The investigators working the serial killer case did not yet realize it, but this was their big break.

Lisa described her kidnapper as a white male in his mid-30s. He had a deep voice; his hair was brown, about an inch long in a layered cut. He had thin eyebrows and a short mustache, big nose, small ears, and good teeth. He was compact but slightly overweight and had come across as somewhat feminine. She noted the gun, and then went on to describe the car, a dark red or maroon two-door Dodge Magnum with a red steering wheel and dashboard, and white seats and interiors. She did not remember anything about the carpet. She also recalled details about the apartment where shed been raped and tried to give the officers a hint about its location, as well as the location of the bank where they had stopped, but the blindfold had limited how much she was able to offer.

On a hunch, HCSO sent the McVey rape evidence to Malone at the FBI lab to see if there was a connection to the serial murders.

In the meantime, a task force had been formed with members from HCSO, the Pasco County Sheriffs Department, the Tampa Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to combine forces and investigate the areas string of serial murders. Lt. Gary Terry was designated as the team supervisor.

Their first meeting took place on November 14, 1984. All the cooperating homicide and sex crime detectives learned that the FBI lab had processed the Lisa McVey evidence and found the same red fibers evident in the other serial murder cases. They now had good information about the killer, including a description of him, his car, his apartment, and his bank. The profile had come fairly close on several points. More important, the place where Lisa had been released had given them a good sense of where to be on the lookout for the red car.

Yet even as Lisa was telling her story, the killer was at work again on his next victim, a woman who willingly got into his car. She fought him, so he strangled her and then drove around with her corpse. He even stopped for gas with her body still in the front seat, but no one noticed. He then took her out to the countryside and dumped her.

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