Ashley Smith's 'Unlikely Angel'

In "Unlikely Angel," Ashley Smith writes of the ordeal she went through last March.

Brian Nichols was apprehended in a residential area of Atlanta, after a massive manhunt. He had escaped from custody at an Atlanta courthouse one day earlier where Nichols also allegedly murdered a judge, court reporter, sheriff's deputy and an off-duty customs agent.

During his escape, Nichols held Smith hostage for seven hours in her apartment.

"It was 2 in the morning on a Saturday night in Atlanta," Smith says. She had decided to go out.

"I heard a truck pulling up when I left," she tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "When I came back, the truck was parked in a different spot and there was somebody in it. I was immediately concerned. I didn't have much choice, but to keep going to the door, so I went to unlock my door and as soon as I unlocked it and opened it, he was behind me.

"He just told me not to scream and he wouldn't hurt me. So all I could do was trust him on that.

"I immediately started praying: whatever happens, please just get me out of here alive. I don't care whatever he does, it doesn't matter. I just want to see Paige the next day."

At the time, Smith had left her 6-year-old daughter with her aunt. The widow says she was addicted to drugs and knew she couldn't take care of her daughter.

"I did know enough to say I'm not giving her what she needed and what she deserves," she says. So she tried to make herself human to her captor. "People that are down, they just want people to relate to them, I think."

Smith says Nichols asked her if she had marijuana. So she offered him what she had, crystal meth, the drug that had such a hold on Smith.

That's when things started changing for Smith.

"I chose not to do the drugs and he did. It was a huge step for me because it was the first time I had said no to them," she says.

"God said: let me give you one more chance and the decision's yours. You can keep living the life that you have and struggling, and trying to quit and not be able to, or reach out to me right now and ask for help, and I'll stop it forever.

"It's amazing for me to look back on it now, almost seven months later, and it's not a problem anymore. No craving whatsoever. And I'm like, why? For years it had such a hold on me. It was a miracle of it in itself, too. That stuff used to make me crazy. It used to make me so hyper. And he was as mellow as could be."

Nichols released Smith unharmed, but not before she shared spiritual readings.

to read an excerpt from Chapter One.
  • Tatiana Morales

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