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Ashley Smith tells her kidnapping story

August 17th, 2008 · No Comments · Politics, Real-life Adventure Tales


I started thinking about this watching tonight’s “Civil Forum” with Obama and McCain and this paster Rick Warren.  Somebody mentioned that he wrote “The Purpose-Driven Life”, and I remembered that was the book that woman read to the escaped convict Brian Nichols who kidnapped her in Atlanta back in about 2005.  (March)

I’d always remembered the way she told the story the first night that she got free.  It was the most amazing, real, solo story-telling performance I’ve ever seen in my life.  Then I somehow remembered her name!  Ashley Smith.  So I was able to look it up online, and even though this is a slightly edited down version, all I can say is — be in a quite place, get yourself comfortable, don’t be distracted, and just go right into this.

There’s something about her accent, her demeanor, her calmness, her honesty . . . this person just picked out of the hundreds of millions, who never expected to be in front of a camera in her life, let alone held by an escaped convict who’d just killed people.  And all on the same day.

And this was riffed the evening it ended and before she went to sleep — like, it was still live in that day for her.  This is so raw.

And it was done on the fly in (I think) the restaurant of the hotel that the city put her up in that night.  The reporters just plopped her on a couch, and she just riffed it all out in one uninterupted non-stop solo!  How she holds it together and keeps going is just riveting, chilling, jaw-dropping . . .

a good chunk of it on video:

news story:

Another interview from the day after:

I recommend to everyone I know to watch this.

It’s a real-life performance you will never forget.

p.s.  There’s this whole huge passage edited out of the link above.  If anyone ever finds the whole entire story, let me know and we’ll link.

In the meantine, here’s this whole amazing part that’s edited out — from between 5:30 and 9 in the morning . . .

“About 5:30, 6–well, 6, 6:30–he said, “I need to make a move.” And I said, “A move?” He said, “I need to get rid of this car before daylight, this truck [the agent’s].” I said, “OK.”

“I knew that if I didn’t agree to go with him, follow him to get the truck–he’d just take the truck, then one thing–or two–one of two things. He would kill me right then, and say, “All right, well, if you’re not going to help me, then I won’t need you anymore.” Or the police would never find him, or it would take longer. And someone else would get hurt, and I was trying to avoid that.

“So I went . . . I said, “Can I take my cell phone?” He said, “Do you want to?” I said, “Yeah.” I’m thinking, well, I might call the police then, and I might not. So I took it anyway. He didn’t take any guns with him. The guns were laying around the house. Pretty much after he untied [me], they were just laying around the house.

“And at one point, he said, “You know, I’d rather you shoot–the guns are laying in there–I’d rather you shoot me than them.” I said, “I don’t want anyone else to die, not even you.”

“So we went to take the truck, and I was behind him, following him. And I thought about calling the police, you know, I thought, he’s about to be in the car with me right now. So I can call the police, and when he gets in the car, then they can surround me and him together, and I could possibly get hurt, or we can go back to my house.

“And I really felt deep down inside that he was going to let me see my little girl. And I said–or then when I leave, he can be there by himself, or he–he finally agreed to let me go see my daughter. I had to leave at 9, 9:30. And I really believed that he was going to.

“From the time he walked into my house until we were taking that truck, he was a totally different person to me. I felt very threatened, scared. I felt he was going to kill me when–when I first–when he first put the gun to my side. But when I followed him to pick–to take the truck, I felt he was going to–he was really going to turn himself in. So he took the truck.

“He got in the car and I said, “Are you ready now?” And he said, “Give me a few days, please.” I said, “Come on, you’ve got to turn yourself in now.” I didn’t feel like he might–I felt like he might change his mind, that he might not want to turn himself in the next day, or a few days after that, and that if he did feel that way, then he would need money, and the only way he could get money was if he hurt somebody and took it from them.

“So we went back to my house and got in the house. And he was hungry, so I cooked him breakfast. He was overwhelmed with–“Wow,” he said, “real butter, pancakes?”

“And I just talked with him a little more, just about–about–we pretty much talked about God . . . what his reason was, why he made it out of there.

“I said, “Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don’t believe in miracles–you are here for a reason. You’re here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don’t think that’s a miracle? You don’t think you’re supposed to be sitting here right in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?”

“I said, “You know, your miracle could be that you need to–you need to be caught for this. You need to go to prison and you need to share the word of God with them, with all the prisoners there.”

“Then 9 came. He said, “What time do you have to leave?”

[ then the conclusion of the story continues on the clip ]


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Along this vein, here’s my own Jumping Out of A Car While Being Robbed, Killed or Kidnapped story.

Or the time Al Franken and I were in a fight with hecklers at a Howard Dean rally in New Hampshire.

Or here’s an account of being in New York the night John Lennon was killed.

Or here’s the time I snuck onto the Pittsburgh Penguins team bus during the playoffs.

Or here’s the whole wild Obama Inauguration Adventures.

Or here’s a tale of hanging out with Jack Kerouac’s friend Henri Cru on his 70th birthday.


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 Brian Hassett            

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