“Man, I want to be a cop. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said Lisa McVey, now an officer at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Florida. “My message is powerful: Be strong. Draw on your instinct for self-preservation.”
Lisa McVey’s words and achievements are admirable, especially considering the fact that in 1984 she was the victim of a serial killer who nabbed her off her bike as she pedaled home at 2 a.m. from her job at Krispy Kreme. Forced into his car at gunpoint, she endured being raped over the next 26 hours.
This ended when she pleaded that her elderly father needed her care. Somehow, she struck a chord and was driven back to her neighborhood. “Tell your father he’s the reason I didn’t kill you,” were the parting words of Bobby Joe Long who abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered at least 10 women in Florida’s Tampa Bay Area over an eight-month span.
In 2019, McVey watched from the front row as Long was executed by lethal injection.
Mary Vincent, another survivor of a serial killers attack, still struggles to regain her sense of self:
“He really did,” Vincent told the Los Angeles Times. “He destroyed everything about me. My way of thinking. My way of life. Holding on to innocence . . . and I’m still doing everything I can to hold on.”
Vincent ran away from home when she was 15 years-old, and while hitchhiking to LA was picked up by a ‘kindly old man’, Lawrence Singleton. Waking after being hit in the head with a sledgehammer, Vincent became terrified upon becoming aware she was riding in the back of Singleton’s van, with her arms tied to opposite walls. Keeping her bound, he repeatedly raped her over the next day and night.
“If you want to be set free, I’ll set you free,” Singleton jeered in response to Vincent’s pleas. He then chopped off both of her arms and dropped in 30 feet into a rocky canyon. Looking into the eyes of death, Vincent forced herself onto her feet with bloody stumps in place of arms, clambered up the rocky cliff, and a passing motorist took her to the hospital.
Faced by Vincent in court, Singleton was sentenced to the maximum at that time, 14 years. He was paroled after only 8 years for good behavior and service. He was run out of California by residents and ended up in Florida where, after murdering a sex worker, a judge sentenced him to death. Vincent bravely testified at both trials – it is impossible to imagine what it must have been like. Singleton died of cancer in prison in 2001.
Vincent was fitted for prostheses and attended physical therapy. The horrible trauma resulted years of psychotherapy. Through all she has experience, Vincent has become known and revered as at “The Patron Saint of Badass Women” on posters and t-shirts.
Mary S. Reigel, an expert in working with violent crime survivors for over 40 years, says that, “Surviving a terrifying experience changes everything—your sense of yourself, how you interact with the world and how the world interacts with you. When something horrible happens, you can never go back to where you were.” Reigel’s words express the pain survivors overcome to have a normal life.