If you’re yet to watch the film everyone’s talking about, the 2018 Lifetime film is based on a true story – and it’s actually recent, too.
The real-life story centres around Florida-based Lisa McVey, a 17-year-old girl who was abducted in 1984 by serial killer, Bobby Joe Long. She was raped and traumatised over a horrific period of 26 hours until she used reverse psychology and some clever detective work to free herself from the ordeal. Once free and upon her arrival home, rather than being offered support, she was questioned and her story was cast with doubt.
The films documents how one detective listened to her case, recognising that it was the infamous serial killer who abducted her. So how much is true and where are the characters now? Here, we break down the real story behind Netflix’s latest blockbuster…
What is the true story and how much of it is depicted in the film?
Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey is completely based on real events and Lisa actually gave the film her approval and attended a special screening when the film was first released back in 2018.
So what actually happened to Lisa? In 1984, a 17-year-old Lisa was knocked off her bike and abducted in Florida by Bobby Joe Long, who sexually assaulted and raped her for 26-hours until she managed to escape.
According to Lisa herself, just hours prior to her abduction she had actually planned to commit suicide as a result of years of sexual abuse by her grandmother’s boyfriend. She said the terrifying abduction ordeal made her determined to survive.
“I was deathly afraid that he was going to kill me. Here I was thinking about killing myself, and now I was going to be fighting for my life. When he released me and drove off, I took off my blindfold and saw this amazing oak tree. I had wanted to die before and now I wanted to live, I got a second chance at life,” she said.
Lisa was blindfolded during her capture but managed to take in clues from her surroundings. She used her hands to figure out her captor’s facial features, as well as touching as many surfaces as possible in the hope of leaving DNA behind.
Using reverse psychology – and telling Long that she was the caretaker of her seriously ill father – he freed her and drove her home blindfolded. Despite the blindfold, Lisa did note a rare feature in his car from under her blindfold, which became a crucial piece of evidence when police investigated the case.
Lisa also noted that Long stopped at a cashpoint – and considering that cashpoints were rare in the 80s, police were able to trace that too.
Who was Bobby Joe Long and what happened to him?
Bobby Joe Long was a notorious sexual assaulter and had been terrorising the Tampa Bay area of Florida in the early 80s. He reportedly sexually assaulted up to 50 women and murdered 10.
He was arrested outside a movie theatre and charged with Lisa’s kidnapping, where he later confessed to the abduction, as well as 10 murders, in November 1984. Long was given the death penalty in 1985 and was executed in 2019, more than 30 years after his conviction.
Where is Lisa McVey now?
Lisa worked in law enforcement, hoping to ensure that no one else went through what she did. Lisa has been a member of the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office for nearly two decades and a School Resource Officer for seven.
“If a student is down in the dumps, I tell them a story about a girl whose family abandoned her and who was kidnapped and raped. And I say, ‘Do you think she lost her way? No. She became a police officer. You’re looking at her,” Lisa said.