By Walt Hunter
ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — Her name is Veronica, and her story is one of strength and survival.
At only 20 year old, she was abducted by Reginald McNeill, who had just been released from prison after serving 27 years as a sex offender.
McNeill attacked Veronica as she left her job along Old York Road in Abington Township, Montgomery County in July of 2010.
After spraying her face with mace, gouging her eyes and wrapping a rubber cord around her neck in an attempt to strangle her, McNeill kidnapped her at knifepoint in her car, driving for miles while holding a knife against her.
Prosecutors say that throughout the horrifying ordeal, Veronica showed remarkable courage and composure by trying to engage her attacker in conversation, even as he threatened to rape and murder her.
Finally, after several miles, Veronica saw her chance, launching herself across the front seat of the car and toppling out, dragging her captor with her.
In an exclusive interview with CBS 3’s Walt Hunter, she called it her “leap of faith.”
McNeill took off, but was captured later and is now serving a 35 to 70 year jail term that Assistant District Attorney Matt Quigg says will keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Veronica says she is telling her story to empower victims and to give advice to others on how to protect themselves.
District Attorney Risa Ferman praised what she called this “extraordinary young woman” for making the transition from survivor to advocate.
Now in college, Veronica says she is majoring in criminology and hopes to protect others from the real life horror of the crime that she experienced.