updated 3/15/2005 12:04:59 PM ET 2005-03-15T17:04:59

Guest: Charles Johnson, Catherine Burton, Joel Osteen, Frank Page, Bo Dietl

ANNOUNCER:  The following is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:

“Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror.”

ASHLEY SMITH, FORMER HOSTAGE:  Through my time with Mr. Nichols, I continued to rely on my faith in God.  God has helped me through tough times before and he will help me now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, Ashley Smith, the woman held hostage for seven harrowing hours and who used her faith to end a bloody rampage. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  And he put a gun to my side and he said, don‘t scream.  If you don‘t scream, I won‘t hurt you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The 26-year-old single mother held captive during a terrifying night diffused the deadly situation by talking to accused killer Brian Nichols about God, her dead husband and her 5-year-old daughter. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  And I told him I that if he hurt me, my little girl wouldn‘t have a mommy or a daddy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  After discussing God‘s purpose for the alleged killer‘s life, Smith told Nichols they both needed to stay alive.  Tonight, the incredible story of Ashley Smith and how she helped end a murderer‘s spree in Atlanta, Georgia. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, here‘s Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at a live picture of Atlanta, a city recovering from 27 hours of terror and a city now celebrating the courage and faith of one of their own, a local named Ashley Smith, a young mother who tamed a monster and who has simply captivated the entire nation. 

Welcome to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Held Hostage:

Seven Hours of Terror.”  We‘re going to be spending the next hour talking about Ashley Smith and the showdown.  Ashley, of course, is a young mother who managed to stop a killer from killing again. 

I‘m very pleased to be joined by our all-star panel.  We have Joel Osteen.  He‘s the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston Texas.  And he‘s the author of “Your Best Life Now.”  We also have Charles Johnson, the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio.  We‘ve got former New York City homicide detective Bo Dietl.  And we‘ve got psychologist Catherine Burton. 

And I‘m pleased to also be joined by Pastor Frank Page of the First Baptist Church.  He has known Ashley Smith for 14 years and he baptized her back in 1992. 

What an incredible story today.  I flew into Atlanta to cover this story.  You look at the front and this woman, this young woman, has captivated Atlanta and the nation.  Two-thirds of the front page of “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution” is her story, “An Angel Sent From God.”  Atlanta is talking about it.  America is talking about it.  The world is talking about it. 

And just minutes ago, the woman whose courage helped end the hostage crisis in Atlanta said she was not the real hero. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  It‘s natural to focus on the conclusion of any story, but my role was really very small in the grand scheme of things.  The real heroes are the judicial and law enforcement officials who gave their lives and those who risked their lives to bring this to an end. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  At just 26 years old, Ashley Smith has already suffered through a lifetime of heartache.  Her family says that, as a young woman, she was lost, that she skipped college to marry Mack Smith and that the two had baby Paige when Ashley was only 21 years old.  Mack was stabbed four years ago and he died in Ashley‘s arms. 

Ashley was getting her life together.  She had just moved into her new apartment two days before this ordeal, an ordeal that started at 2:00 in the morning when Ashley arrived home from a convenience store.  Listen to it in her own words. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  I started walking to my door, and I felt really, really scared.  So I put my key in the door, and I unlocked it, and I turned around, and he was right there.

And I started to scream.  And he put a gun to my side and he said, Don‘t scream.  If you don‘t scream, I won‘t hurt you.

So I said, All right, OK, I won‘t scream.  We went in the house, and he shut and locked the door behind us.

He told me to go into the bathroom.  So I went to the bathroom and he followed me into the bathroom, and he said, Do you know who I am?  I said, No, because he had a hat on.

And then he took his hat off, and he said, Now do you know who I am?  And I said, Yeah, I know who you are.  Please don‘t hurt me.  Just please don‘t hurt me.  I have a 5-year-old little girl.  Please don‘t hurt me.

He said, I‘m not going to hurt you, if you just do what I say.  I said, All right.

So he told me to get in the bathtub.  So I got in the bathtub.  And he said, I really don‘t feel comfortable around here.  I‘m going to walk around your house for a few minutes just so I can get the feel of it.  I said, OK.

He said, I don‘t want to hurt you.  I don‘t want to hurt anybody else. 

So please don‘t do anything that‘s going to make me hurt you.

He said, You know, somebody could have heard your scream already.  And if they did, the police are on the way, and I‘m going to have to hold you hostage, and I‘m going to have to kill and probably myself and lots of other people.  And I don‘t want that.  And I said, OK, I‘ll do what you say.

He looked around my house for a few minutes, I heard him opening up drawers and just going through my stuff.  And he came back in and said, I want to relax, and I don‘t feel comfortable with you right now.  So I‘m going to have to tie you up.

He brought some masking tape and an extension cord and a curtain in there, and I kind of thought he was going to strangle me.  I was really kind of scared.  But he told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back, and he wrapped my hands in a prayer—in a praying position, so I did that.  And he wrapped masking tape around my hands.

And then he told me to go into my bedroom, and I sat down on the bed, like he asked.  And he wrapped my legs with masking tape and an extension cord.  He also took a curtain and put it around my—my stomach.  And he asked me if I could get up, and I got up.  He said, Can you walk?  And I said, No.  So he picked me up and he took me to the bathroom.  And he put me on a stool that I have in my bathroom.

He said he wanted to take a shower.  So I said, OK, you can take a shower.  He said, Well, I‘m going to put a towel over your head so you don‘t have to watch me take a shower.  So I said, OK.  All right.

He got in the shower, took a shower, and then he got out of the shower.  And he had the guns laying on the counter.  But I guess he really wasn‘t worried about me grabbing them because I was tied up.

He asked me if I had a T-shirt.  I told him where to find one.  So he got dressed.

He put on some clothes that I had in my house that were men‘s clothes.  And then he came back in the bathroom.  He said, Can you get up?  So I got up.

He said, Can you walk now?  And I said, No, but I can hop.  So I hopped to my bedroom and sat on the bed.  And he cut the tape off of me, unwrapped the extension cord and the curtain.

I guess at that point, it kind of made me feel like he was comfortable enough with me that he untied me.  So we went back in the bathroom.  That‘s where he felt more comfortable, in the bathroom, away from the front of the house I guess.  And we just talked.

I asked him if—I told him that I was supposed to go see my little girl the next morning at 10:00, and I asked him if I could go see her.  And he told me no.

My husband died four years ago, and I told him that if he hurt me, my little girl wouldn‘t have a mommy or a daddy.  And she was expecting to see me the next morning.  And if he didn‘t let me go, she would be really upset.

He still told me no.  But I could—I could kind of feel that he started to know who I was, and he said, Maybe, maybe I‘ll let you go.  Just maybe.  We‘ll see how things go.

I went to my room, then I asked him if I could read.  He said, What do you want to read?  I said, Well, I have a book in my room, so I went and got it.  I got our Bible, and I got a book called “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day, which was chapter 33, and I started to read the first paragraph of it.  After I read it, he said, Stop.  Will you read it again?  I said, Yes, I‘ll read it again.

So I read it again to him.  It mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was, what were you—what talents were you given, what gifts were you given to use.  And I asked him what he thought.  And he said, I think it‘s to talk to people and tell them about you.

I basically just talked to him and tried to gain his trust.  I wanted to leave to go see my daughter.  That was really important.  I didn‘t want him to hurt anybody else.  He came into my apartment telling me that he was a soldier and that people—that his people needed him for a job to do and he was doing it.

And I didn‘t want him to hurt anybody else.  He didn‘t want to hurt anybody else.  He just told me that he wanted a place to stay, to relax, to sit down, to watch TV, to eat some real food.

I talked to him about my family.  I told him about things that had happened in my life.  I asked him about his family.

I asked him why he did what he did.  And his reason was because he was a soldier.  I asked him why he chose me and why he chose Bridgewater Apartments, and he said he didn‘t know, just randomly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bo Dietl, let me go to you first.  This is a night that began for this young lady with a gun shoved in her side and ended with her the next morning making pancakes for this alleged kidnapper and killer.  Have you ever heard of anything like this before in all of your years of law enforcement? 

BO DIETL, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  No, Ashley Smith is like—it‘s a miracle, this whole story.

You had a hard killer, a person who just took the lives of four people.  He walked into that place.  He put a gun in her side.  And I knew, in his mind, he was going to take her out.  And by the time that next seven hours was over, he was waving a white flag like a little marshmallow.  And, for some reason, she took the whole anger and murder out of him.

But let‘s not get wrong about this.  There are four people dead.  And whatever they got to do in Atlanta, they got to do.  Let‘s not feel sorry for him.  Let‘s not feel sorry for him at all, because they have four dead people.  And what this woman did, you just can‘t believe it.  She talked about family.  She talked about her faith.  And she brought him into the other world. 

You could see, he was not a career criminal.  He did not have a long arrest record.  So, he did have some kind of establishment, some kind of a family value to him.  And whatever snapped in his mind, he resnapped back.  When he was watching the TV, he mentioned to her, that‘s not me out there killing these people.  That can‘t be me.  And she was relating to it.  That‘s not the person that I‘m sitting here with. 

And also, when she relates to the fact about her husband being killed four years prior and about, if you kill me, my little girl is not going to have a parent to go home.  She has no father.  She‘s not going to have any mother.  And, I mean, it‘s just unbelievable.  I don‘t think she knew what she was doing.  I don‘t think she planned what she was doing.  I think she was being very honest.  She was a very faith-orientated lady.  God bless her, man. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you what.  It‘s a remarkable story. 

And, before we go to the break, I want to bring in Frank Page right now.  Frank Page is actually Ashley‘s pastor from a long time back, baptized Ashley. 

Frank, tell me, you spoke with her today.  We saw her tonight, just 30 minutes ago.  She look exhausted.  She looked like she was emotionally worn out.  What did you say to her?  How did you counsel her today? 

FRANK PAGE, BAPTIZED ASHLEY SMITH:  Thank you, Joe. 

The first thing of course I said to her today was how proud I was of her, because I believe that she‘s an extraordinary young lady and I believe God used her in a mighty way.  So, I just told her I was proud of her, but, yes, we talked about the fact that she‘s very tired.  You can imagine the kind of attention she‘s getting. 

She‘s just an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation.  So, she‘s tired.  She hopes to get some rest now.  She has wonderful people protecting her now.  We talked about her conversations with the suspect.  And I‘ll be glad to talk about that later.  But I just encouraged her and told her I loved her very much.  I have known her since she was a little girl. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a remarkable story.  And I‘ll tell you what.  We‘re going to continue with it and talk more about what happened in Atlanta this week. 

And we‘re going to have my panel, going to bring them all in, in just a minute, and look at what may have saved Ashley Smith‘s life, the power of faith, and what many across America are calling a miracle.  We‘re also going to be hearing more on Ashley talking about her showdown with a murderous kidnapper when we return with this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A single mother stares alleged kidnapping killer.  More of this SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY special edition, “Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror,” when we return from Atlanta in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  I hope that he‘s sitting in jail right now thinking that he did the right thing, and that he knows that he did the right thing and that, if no one else is pleased with it, his father in heaven is pleased with him for doing the right thing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror.”

So, what saved Ashley Smith‘s life?  Held hostage by a suspected murder, tied up, facing death, she turned the tables and gained her freedom by talking about her 5-year-old daughter and her faith in God. 

I‘m back now with our panel.

I want to go now to Joel Osteen.  He‘s the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston.

Joel, help—help us understand this.  You have got somebody who believes in God, has a gun in their side.  They‘re tied up.  They‘re bound.  Help me out here.  Would you tell members of your own family—of your own church family to do what Ashley Smith did when her life was on the line? 

JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH:  You know, Joe, it‘s just an amazing thing.  Just, it tells me that God‘s power and his mercy and his grace shows up when you need it the most. 

And, you know, it‘s amazing what will happen when you get in a tough situation like she was in.  And I think that‘s when we just—we see God work in his awesome way.  So, I don‘t know.  I tell my congregation to trust God, to stay at peace, to know that he‘s in control and that, no matter what happens, that he‘s going to keep you in the palm of your hands.  And I think that‘s just what he did in Ashley‘s situation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Charles, I want to bring you in here.  A lot of people that I have heard today are asking some tough questions.  They‘re saying, wait a second.  Ashley is talking to this guy like he can actually be saved by God after he spent the entire day gunning down police officers, gunning down judges, shooting innocents at point-blank range.  What kind of God forgives a murderer like that?

CHARLES JOHNSON, PASTOR, TRINITY BAPTIST CHURCH:  Well, an amazing God, Joe. 

God‘s capacities for mercy and redemption are endless.  This man, too, was created in the image of God.  And that remarkable young woman appealed to God‘s image, even within that murderer.  It‘s a compelling story.  It‘s an ancient and eternal story of love.  That young woman of faith calmly, peacefully spoke her convictions to that murderer.  And she ended the violence.  She broke the spiral of violence.  Chesterton once said...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Charles, she did—she did—she did break the spiral of violence, but what do you say to somebody that is not a Christian and says, OK, help me out here, Pastor?  This guy can gun down three, four people in the morning and, at night, can read a “Purpose Driven Life” and take God into his heart and God forgives him?  I don‘t understand that. 

JOHNSON:  It‘s a—it‘s a very good question.  And we‘re all troubled by this.  This is a tragedy.  We need to see that four innocent people were killed, their lives snuffed out.  This man did a very, very bad thing. 

But the spiral of violence was ended by this woman.  Yes, God has an indescribable, indescribable capacity to forgive and to redeem.  God‘s ledger is not like our ledger.  In the sight of God, all of us are guilty of crimes.  The families of these victims are grieving.  This is a horrible situation.  And the prayers of this nation are with these families.  And we all ask why this senseless act of violence. 

But this woman employed her faith in a remarkable way.  Chesterton once said that the problem with Christianity it‘s not that it‘s been tried and found lacking.  So often, it‘s not tried.  But Ashley Smith tried it and it worked, the power of love over hate and violence.  I think it‘s just an incredible, amazing story, a miracle indeed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a remarkable story.  And Ashley Smith says that her faith is what got her through the ordeal and she believes that reading the book “The Purpose Driven Life” and talking about God may have saved her life. 

Charles, take a listen to what she said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  He said he thought that I was an angel sent from God, and that I was his sister, and he was my brother in Christ.  And that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people.

And the families, the people, to let him know how they felt, because I had gone through it myself.  He told me that he didn‘t—he didn‘t want to hurt the agent that he hurt.  He had begged and pleaded with him to—to do things his way and he didn‘t, so he had to kill him.

He said that he didn‘t shoot the deputy, that he hit her, and that he hoped she lived. 

He showed me a picture of the—the agent that he did kill.  And I tried to explain to him that he killed a 40-year-old man that was probably a father, a husband, a friend.

And he really began to trust me, to feel my feelings.  He looked at pictures of my family.  He asked me to—if he could look at them and hold them...

I really didn‘t keep track of time too much, because I was really worried about just living.  I didn‘t want to die.  I didn‘t want him to hurt anybody else.  And I really didn‘t want him to hurt himself or anyone else to hurt him.  He‘s done enough—he had done enough.  And he really, honestly when I looked at him, he looked like he didn‘t want to do it any more.

He asked me what I thought he should do.

And I said, I think you should turn yourself in.  If you don‘t turn yourself in, this is what I said, if you don‘t turn yourself in, lots more people are going to get hurt.  And you‘re probably going to die.

He needed hope for his life.  He told me that he was already dead.  He said, look at me, look at my eyes.  I am already dead.

And I said, you are not dead.  You are standing right in front of me. 

If you want to die, you can.  It‘s your choice.

But after I started to read to him, he saw—I guess he saw my faith and what I really believed in.  And I told him I was a child of God and that I wanted to do God‘s will.  I guess he began to want to. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go back to our panel.

I want to go right now to Catherine Burton.  She‘s a psychologist out of Dallas.

Catherine...

CATHERINE BURTON, PSYCHOLOGIST:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Help us understand in layman‘s terms what happened in these seven hours where this woman was held hostage.  What happened with her?  What gave her the courage to do what she did?  And what happened with the alleged killer? 

BURTON:  Well, I think—you know, he has a history of violence, obviously.  But she saw his humanity.  I think she saw through that. 

And she spoke to him on a very deep, personal level.  She was able to connect with him on multiple levels.  Emotionally, she connected with him.  She connected with him spiritually and she connected with him behaviorally. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s an amazing story.  Now, what about this guy?  What did he see in her that made him put down the gun, that made him untie her, that made him let her go free at the end? 

BURTON:  Well, she told him that she felt like this was a type of divine appointment, that it was her purpose to be and—have an encounter with him, and that she was there to help him, to keep him from harming other people and to keep him from harming herself. 

So—and he agreed with that.  He said he didn‘t want to die.  He didn‘t want to harm any more people.  so, she spoke that language to him.  And he accepted it.  He received it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s an amazing story.  Talk about a purpose-driven life.  What a purpose-driven message. 

And we‘re live from the courthouse in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  We have got a lot more with our all-star panel on this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  It‘s a remarkable story, “Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror.”

We‘ll be back in a minute, live from Atlanta, Georgia.  Don‘t go away. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  With a mass murderer holding her hostage, Ashley Smith was bound by duct tape, an extension cord and a shower curtain.  And she was freed by her captor.  So, why did she let him back into her car and life?  That in just a minute.

But, first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  The following is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:

“Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror.”

From the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, once again, Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We are back live at the Atlanta courthouse. 

Ashley Smith, of course, is the 26-year-old single mother who was able to gain her freedom from accused murderer Brian Nichols after being held captive.  Welcome back to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Held Hostage: Seven Hours of Terror.”

What effect did her deeply religious convictions have in diffusing the potentially deadly situation?

I‘m back with former NYPD homicide detective Bo Dietl, psychologist Catherine Burton.  Also, we have with us—we have Charles Johnson, the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, the author of “Your Best Life Now,” Joel Osteen.  And we also have Frank Page, who help baptize Ashley Smith. 

Bo Dietl, back to you.

A lot of experience in crime work, still very active.  I want to ask you, there‘s talk around Atlanta, talk around the courthouse about how this guy may have allowed Ashley to go free at the end because he was trying to soften his image, sort of a mitigating factor.  Do you buy that for a second, Bo? 

DIETL:  Well, here‘s what it‘s all about.  First, he had her tied up.  He let her go there and he took the bondage off of her.  Then he trusted her enough to drive a car.  He drove one car to get that car out of the area, the custom‘s guy car out of there. 

She had a cell phone with her, but he still trusted her.  When he came back, he said he was going to give her an opportunity to go visit her daughter, which, at that time, he said he was going to give himself up.  She was able to leave.  He knew that she was going to call the police.  And my experience with murderers are, when they go auto jail, they start to become very religious.  They start to read the Bible a lot and they start to see God and see what they have missed. 

And I think he was watching on TV after that phone call was made.  When he saw them SWAT guys out there with their camouflage uniforms on, and he knew what they were going to do with him, I think he started to see God when he looked out the window and started to watch TV as they started to surround the house and he knew he would see God quite fast if he made any wrong moves there. 

Again, let‘s not get this thing wrong.  This lady is a hero, but he‘s a murderer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it. 

Frank Page, we talked about what the murderer did.  Let‘s talk about what Ashley did.  Just like Bo brought up, this is the most remarkable part of the story.  He bound her.  He tied her up.  She thought she was going to die.  She thought she was going to leave her child orphaned, her 5-year-old girl.  And yet, when Ashley had a chance to pick up the phone and call the police, to dial 911, when she was following this kidnapper and this alleged murderer, she had a chance to do it.  She didn‘t. 

And then she let him back in the car.  He himself said, I‘m surprised you let me back in.  I‘m surprised you didn‘t drive off.  What made her do that? 

PAGE:  Well, Joe, I can tell you, because I talked to her today and I know her enough to know what happened. 

She, after that initial tying up and frightened for her life experience passed, she believed with all her heart that she was there for a reason.  And that reason was to share with him the good news of the lord.  And you said earlier, you asked a question, a very good question, can God forgive something like that?  At what point does the sin become forgivable or not forgivable.

Well, in God‘s eyes, if we truly confess—I don‘t know if he did—then we are forgiven.  She knew that.  She has a simple faith.  She shared with him Philippians 4:13, which says, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.  She believed that, after that initial time, that she would not be hurt.  She believed with all her heart that she was there for a purpose, for a mission.  And she believed that he would let her go, just like he said he would.  And he did. 

She was able to bring a moment—or a time of civility and humanity to an out-of-control situation.  And so, she had no doubt that she was there for a purpose, God was going to use her.  And he did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Joel Osteen, talking about faith, it takes incredible faith for somebody who thinks they may be killed, may never see their 5-year-old daughter again, to let a killer back in their car, back in their life because she wants to finish sharing God with him.  Try to explain that to those of us who just can‘t understand it. 

OSTEEN:  You know, it‘s almost unexplainable.  But, you know, the Bible talks about, God‘s ways are not our ways. 

And I heard Ashley say, she just knew down in here.  And I think she knew deep down in her heart, God speaking to her right down in here, that she was doing the right thing.  And, you know, when you are in that situation, when you are following God, following your heart, I think you will do amazing things and God will lead you to do extraordinary things.  And, like somebody mentioned, she‘s just an ordinary person, but God used her in an extraordinary way. 

And that‘s what happens when we put our faith in God and we see our faith tested and tried.  It will come through every time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Charlie Johnson, you have always talked straight.  I heard you gave a sermon once—in fact, you are the only Southern Baptist preacher I have ever heard quote Bruce Springsteen in a prayer.

So, talk straight to me now.  If you had a killer out of your car, would you let him back in?  Would you have had that type of faith? 

JOHNSON:  Gosh, Joe.  That‘s a great question.  It‘s the question on everybody‘s mind in America.  I—I don‘t know if I would have that kind of faith.  I would pray.  I would hope that I would have the super-active love of God all around me, like Ashley Smith had. 

That is simply an amazing young woman.  She was in another realm, another sphere at that time.  She knew that she was in the will of God, as Joel said.  She knew that she was in the purpose of the almighty at that moment, as her pastor said a moment ago.  And she was enacting God‘s plan at that time.  I don‘t know if any of us would—could aspire to that kind of faith. 

Jesus said—Jesus was asked once, how much faith is enough—how much faith is enough faith?  He said, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be uprooted and cast into the sea and it will be done for you.  She saw something in that fellow human being.  She was not talking to a murderer.  She was talking to a fellow person.  She saw a human capacity for love, even in a murderer. 

Now, that doesn‘t negate the cancellation of life that that man is responsible for.  But it does prove to this nation the power of love over the forces of hate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk more about Ashley and hear from her. 

For nearly four hours, this unlikely pair talked about God, their lives, and their families.  Then the alleged rapist and killer decided he wanted to leave.  Ashley went with him.  Let‘s hear that part of the story from Ashley. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  And he said—I said, Can I take my cell phone?  And he said, Do you want to?  I said, Yeah.  And 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.

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 we 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, mainly, and 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‘re 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 be—you need to be caught for this.  You need to go to prison and you need to share the word of god with all the prisoners there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Frank Page, you counseled Ashley today.  We‘ve been talking about the challenges she went through over the weekend.  Talk about the challenges she‘s facing today, tonight and in the coming weeks. 

PAGE:  I have talked to her today and encouraged her, told her how proud I was of her. 

I will tell you, she has some incredible family members who are going to love her and support her and give her some time to process all this.  Obviously, because of the legal issues, they are encouraging her not to give any more interviews.  So, she‘ll be hesitant to do that.  But she‘s going to need some time to process all this.  But, again, you need to understand...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Has she been reunited with her young daughter? 

PAGE:  She saw her daughter, of course, that day that she was released.  And she is now in Augusta with her aunt and uncle and other family members, where her daughter lives right now.  So, yes, she‘s with her precious daughter, whose name is Paige.  And she‘s a precious child. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  

Listen, we‘re going to have a lot more of this amazing story of this 26-year-old single mom who was able to get through the dangerous day with a fugitive holding her hostage and put an end to this terrifying ordeal.  

We‘re also going to talk about what went wrong inside of the courthouse.

We‘re live from that Atlanta courthouse.  And we‘ll be back in just a minute with this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Held Hostage:

Seven Hours of Terror,” when we return live from Atlanta, Georgia. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  Throughout my time with Mr. Nichols, I continued to rely on my faith in God.  God has helped me through tough times before.  And he will help me now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re back in Atlanta, Georgia, right across the street from the Fulton County Courthouse.  I‘m Joe Scarborough.  Welcome back to our special.

Bo Dietl, I have just got to ask you this question, because none of this with Ashley Smith would have ever happened if the law enforcement officials had done their job at the beginning of the day in protecting this courthouse behind me.  There were so many screw-ups, when you talk about security. 

How did it happen that they left this guy, who had tried to smuggle in knives just a few days before, how did they let him be escorted alone, with a 5-foot, 51-year-old female law enforcement officer by herself? 

DIETL:  You heard the day this happened from the mouths of the D.A.  and assistant D.A. that they requested extra security after they found the two shanks in this animal‘s socks. 

So, they requested extra security.  They had—the judge had a meeting.  They call up this sheriff.  They say, we need extra help.  Now they have a 5‘1“ grandmother, 51 years old, handling this guy, who gets undressed, changes his clothes.  She‘s supposed to walk him without shackles on him, without handcuffs.

If you don‘t have the proper security, you know what you do?  You tell the judge.  You send a note into the judge.  We‘re not going to be able to produce this prisoner for at least 15 to 20 minutes, until we get two or three people to bring him in. 

This whole thing wouldn‘t have happened.  And I would be very remiss now.  We all talk about what this angel did.  She is an angel.  But we have to realize one thing.  If people get in a hostage situation and you are in a car and you can get away from there, you run away.  You run over them.  You do what you got to do to get away.  This is an anomaly, that just happened here, that this lady is alive. 

So, let‘s not think that the lord is going to protect everybody who is in a hostage situation.  If you can get away, you get away, because I don‘t want people to believe that they are going to talk to some of these murderers that are holding them hostage.  If you have an opportunity to get away, you go, baby. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Good advice, Bo. 

And if my boys are listening and they‘re ever in the same position, step on the gas.  Don‘t look back. 

We‘re going to be back with some final thoughts from our panel when this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, live from the courthouse in Atlanta, returns. 

We‘ll be back in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go back to our panel for some final thoughts. 

Let‘s begin with you, Joel Osteen.

OSTEEN:  Well, you know, Joe, it‘s just an amazing thing, you know, the whole story.

But one little aspect is the fact that she cooked breakfast for this -

·         this killer.  That‘s a pretty amazing act of love and just shows you, like the panel has all said tonight, that love never fails.  It can overcome evil. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Frank Page, final thoughts. 

PAGE:  Sure. 

Ashley felt she was being used as an instrument of God.  She told me today, she felt filled full with God‘s word and God‘s knowledge.  She simply feels she was an instrument and it‘s all about God, not about her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, that‘s all the time we have tonight. 

I would like to thank my all-star panel, great panel.  Thank you so much. 

We will see you tomorrow night.  I‘m Joe Scarborough, live from Atlanta, Georgia.  Good night. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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