"A moment of brilliance," is how a veteran conflict negotiator described Ashley Smith's moves in March when she talked an Atlanta shooting suspect into letting her go, then turning himself in.
In interview after interview, the calm blonde waitress told how she read from her Bible and a book called The Purpose-Driven Life, and pacified Brian Nichols, who had taken her hostage after he allegedly shot his way out of a courtroom where he was being tried on rape charges.
She was celebrated as a heroine, the everywoman who summons unknown strength to rewrite tragedy into triumph.
"It's clear that sharing her faith with Nichols did much to help them both get through the situation safely," wrote Christianity Today.
Turns out she shared something else -- her stash of crystal meth.
Her book, Unlikely Angel, tells the story, how Nichols had bound her to a bed and asked for marijuana, and how not having any, she offered him the highly addictive stimulant known as "ice."
It's the sort of story Blogtown loves.
Prayer, crystal meth, whatever, is the caption NewMexiKen choses for his raised-eyebrow of a post.
Writes Bijan C. Bayne in the Pop Culture blog:
umm hmm - big hero, like Jessica Lynch. The media need to do a better job of tracking these things down - like Natalie Holloway and partying, not that any teen is perfect, or deserves to be murdered. The real heroes are right in our own Gulf, in Louisiana, Mississippi and East Texas.
The Associated Press story reports that Smith did not disclose to authorities at the time that she offered meth to her captor. Investigators said she opened up about the drugs months later when they interviewed. They said they have no plans to charge her with drug possession. The AP writes:
Smith, a 27-year-old widowed mother who gained widespread praise for her level-headedness, says the seven-hour hostage ordeal in March led to the realization that she was a drug addict, and she says she has not used drugs since the night before she was taken captive. "If I did die, I wasnt going to heaven and say, Oh, excuse me, God. Let me wipe my nose, because I just did some drugs before I got here," Smith told the Augusta Chronicle.
In the Sublime Rage blog, David Svendsen is smelling something bad about the whole story.
My B.S. meter is at full tilt right now. At this point I am putting into doubt everything she said about what went on in those hours while he was with her. Look at the facts:
- Her husband was shot dead by some 'anonymous' people
- Of all the places that this Judge killer from Atlanta could have gone, he ends up at this specific spot
- She 'just happens' to have meth on hand for the guy.
An All Spin Zone commenter named Dan (no, not me) makes a shrewd point: "You know I could see where giving a little pot to a pumped up psycho killer might help mellow him out but giving crystal meth to a full blown wacko is not a trick I would reccommend you try at home."
In Article of Faith, an Athens, Ga. professor named Todd, doesn't blame her for winning her release by icing her captor. And she deserves credit for her disclosure, he writes:
At least she had the guts to come out and admit the story, and has protested, the few times I've seen her, any kind of "halo" others might have been trying to crown her with. People are strangely desperate for good news stories that feature "Christian redemption" or pseudo-spiritual "mediums" and the like. This seems evidenced by the abundance of television shows on this fall concerning these very subjects. Smith, however, seemed to protest her role as savior from the beginning, so I think she personally deserves props for her candor.
The disclosure explains a lot to Tiny Cat Pants, a blogger at NashvillesNews.
I was wondering how she got him to listen to her read that sappy, drivel, The Purpose Driven Life. But that explains it: he was on drugs.
Anyway, back to my point: so what? So she's a drug-addled whack job.
Does that mean her faith is somehow invalid? That she was wrong about being used by her god?
Does the Christian God ever wait around for perfect people?
We let Pastor Pat English close, from her Shades of Gray blog:
I must confess that I had my doubts when I read that this violent captor was subdued by Ms. Smith reading him a book. That made the story almost magical. You could see the beast falling asleep, as if the book was a magic charm. I wonder though, why a woman would give a drug (known to make people violent and unpredictable) to someone who was already violent and unpredictable? Perhaps he spared her simply because she was a drug user, much the same as he was. Unfortunately, the cynic in me feels vindicated by this story. I knew there was a "rest of the story" here. I hope the ordeal was frightening enough to change Ashley's way of life and I sincerely hope that she does allow God to work in her life so that she can overcome her addiction.