A 'Kelly File' special: The Ashley Smith story

Former hostage recalls being held captive by a murderer on 'The Kelly File'


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," September 16, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE KELLY FILE": Developing tonight, we have new details in a case that rocked the country. As we get our first chance to take you inside a story of faith and a faith, as a young women finds a new life from coming face-to-face with a killer on a rampage.

Welcome to our “Kelly File” special, everyone. The Ashley Smith Story. I'm Megyn Kelly. This Friday, a new motion picture hits theaters taking us through one of the most dramatic manhunts of the last decade. The suspect was Brian Nichols. He was on trial for rape at the Fulton County court house when he overpowered and brutally beat a sheriff's deputy, managing to steal her gun in the process. Nichols would kill two more people before he left that courthouse. And two more while on the run.

Then, he crossed paths with Ashley Smith. A young woman and mother struggling to the demons of drug addiction. For seven hours, he held Smith hostage in her own apartment. An ordeal that would remarkably change both of their lives forever. Tonight, Ashley sits down with "The Kelly File" to describe exactly what unfolded in her apartment that night. How the choices she made may have saved her life and why she thinks Nichols chose to end the manhunt the way he did. We will also hear from Geraldo Rivera who was right there in the middle of the story for the final stand-off in Atlanta.

Plus, we'll speak with Tony Perkins about what Ashley calls her story of redemption. But first, Trace Gallagher takes us back to that dramatic day. Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Megyn, the Atlantic Courthouse killer Brian Nichols was on trial for raping an ex-girlfriend but during the trial, Nichols current girlfriend gave birth to their son. Nichols feared that he'd be convicted and never see his son is what legal experts believe motivated him to launch one of the post notorious attacks in Georgia history.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Because Brian Nichols was deemed to be a high-risk inmate, a judge requested extra security escorted him from prison to his court appearance in Atlanta. That request was either ignored or denied. Nichols was guarded by one female sheriff's deputy and while he was changing from prison guard into courtroom attire, Brian Nichols assaulted and severely beat the deputy knocking her unconscious stealing her keys and grabbing her gun from a nearby lock box. Nichols then stormed the courtroom, shooting and killing the very judge who requested he be given extra security.

A court reporter was also shot and killed. And when another deputy gave chase, Nichols turned and killed him. With the courthouse and surrounding buildings on lockdown, Brian Nichols somehow managed to make his way across two parking garages and through a citywide dragnet. Along the way, Nichols carjacked several vehicles, including a truck that belonged to a federal agent who he also shot and killed.

PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is a kind of person that does not need to run the street. This is somebody who should be in police custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dangerous and on the run. A gunman opens fire inside a courtroom.

GALLAGHER: With the city of Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia on high alert at 2:00 in the morning, a 26-year-old single mom pulled up to her apartment complex in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth. Ashley Smith recall seeing a man sitting behind the wheel of a pick-up truck near the entrance to her apartment. As she unlocked her front door, Brian Nichols forced her inside at gunpoint. He then tied her up with tape and electrical cord. She recalls thinking she'd either be raped, killed or both. And at the time, she thought she bordered upon herself.

Smith was a years-long drug addict. Her husband was killed by a drug dealer. She'd been kicked out of her home, institutionalized, even lost custody of her daughter. And while she was tied up and held at gun point, she remembers telling Brian Nichols she had a stash of methamphetamine in her bedroom. He untied her. She gave him the drugs and says, he snorted line after line. Which ironically seemed to calm him down. Smith says, the two then talked all night long.

ASHLEY SMITH, 2005 HOSTAGE SURVIVOR: I kind of thought, okay, if I treat him like a human being not like somebody who will just kill somebody, then maybe he'll let me go.

GALLAGHER: Maybe a day later thinking Brian Nichols might have crossed state lines, the manhunt was now nationwide. The media coverage, non-stop. The FBI had taken the lead, but there were very few leads to follow. And the nation was baffled us to how an inmate was able to attack a secured courthouse and then simply ran away. But 15 miles from that courthouse, Ashley Smith and the most wanted man in the country continued talking. And as morning rolled around, Smith recalls cooking pancakes asking Brian Nichols if she could read him part of the book she's been given. Pastor Rick Warrens "The Purpose-Driven Life." At first she says, Nichols dismissed it as church bs. But then she read it aloud, chapter 32 "Using what God gave you." Including the line, quote, "What you are is God's gift to you. What you do with yourself is your gift to God."

SMITH: 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."

GALLAGHER: Nichols then asked what Ashley Smith thought his purpose was. She said, "To go to jail, pay for what he did. And try to minister people in prison." Smith then told Brian Nichols she had to leave to see her daughter. To her amazement, "he let her go." She immediately called 911. First, she got too busy signals, then she finally got through.

911 DISPATCHER: The victim is advising that he is in the apartment at this time. There are three weapons underneath the bed. She's advising he's wanting to turn himself in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heavily armed officers have now cordoned off the apartment complex. They've got their guns drawn, we've seen a sniper team.

GALLAGHER: Authorities surrounded the apartment. Brian Nichols surrendered peacefully.

RICHARD MECUM, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: We did expect the fight. And we did expect either that or suicide. None of those things occurred. We never counted on Ashley Smith. We never took that into consideration but Ashley with your calm demeanor and handling of the situation, with your cool-headed reasoning, you were able to overcome a very serious situation. And we want to say, thank you.

SMITH: It's natural -- of any story. But my world was really very small in the great scheme of things. The real heroes are the judicial and law enforcement officials who gave their lives and risk their lives to bring this to an end.


GALLAGHER: Brian Nichols is now serving multiple life sentences without parole. He has called Ashley Smith an angel sent from God but since the day he was captured, he has never reached out to her -- Megyn.

KELLY: Incredible. Trace, thank you.

As Trace just mentioned, Ashley Smith's apartment was only 15 miles from that court house. Brian Nichols could have kept running. He could have picked someone else to grab. He could have killed her early on as he did four others that day. But none of those things happened. And what unfolded instead, has since been described by some as a miracle.

Here now, Ashley Smith.


KELLY: Take us back to that day in March of 2005. I remember covering the story on Fox News as a young reporter at the time. You saw news reports that day of what Brian Nichols who was in court being accused of rape, not murder, he had no murder rap sheet, being accused of rape, you saw a news report of what he had done that morning. And what did you think?

SMITH: Well, I didn't it very much. I just saw his mugshot. To be quite honest with you, I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention. And you know, a look back at it today and I realized why I wasn't paying attention. It was just the power of God, he was protecting me from what he knew I was going to go through. But what I did know was, you know, briefly what he looked like basically. And what he had done yet.

KELLY: What had happened in that courtroom that morning, when he had killed the sheriff's deputy who was guarding him? A female officer taken her gun, gone into the courtroom, shot and killed the judge. Shot and killed the court reporter and then ran and got out and killed two more law enforcement officers who were pursuing him. Later that night, he wound up at your house. You went out to buy cigarettes, late at night around 2 a.m. --


KELLY: You come back to your house, what happened?

SMITH: Well, I noticed a truck with a person in it pulling up when I left. But as you said, it was very brief, I was gone about five minutes. And when I came back, I noticed he was still sitting in the truck. And, you know, I thought twice about it. Everyone would think twice about it. But then I thought get out of the car and go inside. That's exactly what I did. I got out the car. I started to walk on towards my apartment. And then I heard him get out of his car.

KELLY: And that moment that so many of us fear. You hear the footsteps coming up behind you --


KELLY: You don't know what to do.

SMITH: Right.

KELLY: And he got you.

SMITH: Well, you know, at this point I couldn't turn back. He was either door to the apartment or turn around and face him. So, I unlocked the door and I turned around and he was right there pointing the gun right at me.

KELLY: And what happened, did he lay his hands on you at that moment?

SMITH: You know, I immediately started to scream and he came at me very quickly, put his hands over my mouth and said, shut up. If you be quiet, I won't hurt you. And he basically just grab me, he pulled me inside and lock the door.

KELLY: Did you know at that moment who it was?

SMITH: No, I did not know that it was Brian Nichols at first.

KELLY: So, he brings you into your bathtub, is that where he brought you first?


KELLY: And tell the viewers what happened.

SMITH: Well, he took me in the bathroom. There was no windows or anything in there. So, he told me to sit in the bathroom. He started to walk around the house. I heard him walking around the house and he came back and he had some tape and an extension cord and different things. And that's when he tied me up, my feet and my arms and just tied me up.

KELLY: What were you thinking at that moment?

SMITH: Well, he asked me. When he came back with the tape starting to know who I am. And I did it, I said, you know, "am I supposed to know who you are". And he said, "Have you been watching the news, the man that's escaped from the courthouse," and then it dawned on me. The mugshot that I had seen. And the brief news that I had watched earlier. And so, I said, great, you know, thinking to myself. The news said, he's killed three people. I'm going to be next, yes. I didn't think there was any hope for me at all.

KELLY: And yes, he tied you. I mean, did you fight? Did you let him tie, you know?

SMITH: No, he told me if I did whatever, he asked me to do, that he wouldn't hurt me and I don't know about you but I didn't really, I didn't have any other choice to believe him. I wanted to make it out there alive and that was my only hope, so.

KELLY: Do you start talking to him. I mean, your words and your faith turned out to be your savior.


KELLY: And you start talking him. Did you have an instinct that there was an opportunity to form a bond with him?


KELLY: When we come back, Ashley will not only answer that question, but she will share the amazing story of what happened when she actually got ahold of Brian Nichols guns.

But first, as the drama unfolded that day. One famous Fox News reporter found himself amazingly right in the middle of the action. Just feet from Ashley Smith's apartment. And when we come back, Gerardo Rivera joins us with that part of the story.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They got the S.O.B., Brian. All right. There he goes. There he goes. All right.




PAGE HOPKINS, THEN-FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is a Fox News alert, I'm Page Hopkins. Fox is hearing reports, police have surrounded an apartment complex just north of Atlanta. Let's go right to Geraldo Rivera live on the phone from Duluth, Georgia. Geraldo, what can you tell us?

RIVERA: Hi, Page. I'm at the Bridgewater apartment complex in Gwinnett County at about 20 miles north of Atlanta and a hostage situation has been confirmed by the authorities. They have a home surrounded inside this apartment complex. They do not confirm that it is Brian Nichols that they had inside. That Brian Nichols is holding a hostage inside. But I spoke to one of the public appeals officers of the Gwinnett County Police Department and the officer told me, they have Nichols.

HOPKINS: We are getting word, ATF is telling Fox News that Nichols is in custody. We are getting world right now. ATF telling Fox News, Nichols is in custody.

RIVERA: Your client is in custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's great. I'm glad to hear that.

RIVERA: They got the S.O.B., Brian. All right. There he goes. There he goes. All right.


KELLY: They got the S.O.B. That's what you heard. Our own Geraldo Rivera saying back in 2005, describing the action from what turned out to be a ringside sit in the capture of Brian Nichols and the unfolding saga of Ashley Smith. In fact, Geraldo got to the scene so quickly, he arrived before a lot of the federal agents and was reporting live on Fox News Channel as the officers were still rolling up. Geraldo joins us now.

How did you find yourself in the very heart of the story?

RIVERA: I was interviewing the attorney at his office. Now remember that Nichols wiped out everybody that had anything to do with the case. He killed the judge. He killed the court reporter, it was logical that his own attorney who had failed him would be the next inline. Another target. I was into be on him. And we heard on the radio that there was this hostage situation developing in the suburban county.

KELLY: And there was a manhunt underway for this man.

RIVERA: Atlanta was locked down. It was very tense. I got there that morning and everybody was obsessing over where this man might strike next. I mean, he had left the bloody trail for goodness sake. And I was attracted to the case, this reckless violence, I mean, where was this guy going with this murder script?

KELLY: He didn't have a violent criminal history; he'd been accused of rape. Had not yet been convicted. But he hadn't been accused of it. But didn't have a murderous past.

RIVERA: He may not have had a past but he certainly had a present. Killing the judge, killing the court reporter --


RIVERA: Killing another sheriff's deputy, killing an ATF agent or was it an immigration officer that happened on him during the escape. So I'm interviewing the lawyer and we hear from the secretary, the lawyer, this news report that they have this unrelated hostage situation developing in the suburban county. Now, the decision I had to make at that point is, is that Brian Nichols or is that an unrelated crime that's taking away, away from the center of the action there in Atlanta where the unfolding mass murders had happened. So, it made the decision to go and we got there as you've suggests very soon, we've got there before many of the authorities and the situation was developing and the police were buttoned down.

The suburban cops were buttoned down. The Feds had not yet arrived. But that often happens because I have a kind of relationship smooshing with the cops. There was an old -- sergeant who was the information officer as I recall and the cop just told me, yes, it's Nichols. They got Nichols. And while on the strength of that, it all came to place, that this was the fugitive, mass murderer, I had no idea about Ashley's situation, of course. But it was pretty clear then.

KELLY: Uh-mm. You go to the scene. And you're standing there for a time not knowing that the police had not yet apprehended him. You didn't know.

RIVERA: I had not yet taken him into custody. No. When we got there, it seemed -- and I knew nothing of the fact that he wanted to surrender. We thought it was still a hostage situation in that very densely packed housing development there in the suburbs. So, as it unfolded, it really had one of the happy endings, such a grim, grim story, what I had found intriguing and perplexing is, why he was not given the death sentence --

KELLY: Uh-mm.

RIVERA: -- given the fact that he had killed in such cold blood, people who were innocent and officials. But the jury, for some reason that I still don't understand, hung on the death sentence. So, the judge imposed these consecutive life sentences.

KELLY: And I want to correct something I said earlier. I said that he had killed the original female sheriff's deputy, in fact she just suffered severe brain damage. She's never come back from it. So, she's not actually dead. When we saw you speaking to the attorney, and they say, they got him, the attorney learned it from you, as it was broken from Fox News, he was genuinely glad to hear it. He was afraid for his own life, and obviously, he knew it was openly known what his client had done in open court.

RIVERA: The story was unfolding in real-time. Everybody was holding their breath. The man who has killed four, why did he had to lose to kill six or eight or ten? We knew that he had taken the weapons of the officers that he slained. So, it was very tense and you could see, you know, the law enforcement reacts in a rapid fashion. But it takes time for them to build up particularly a hostage situation. So, first you have the suburban officers involved, then we got there. Then the officers from the broader community began arriving. The Feds though downtown Atlanta, they have to get the word that it is, indeed, a kidnapping situation, a federal potential, federal offense. Not you're running a mill kind of domestic squabble which it could easily have been. So, we got there and watch the big suburbans arriving with the Feds -- unfolding.

KELLY: That's what's so incredible -- that's what's so incredible about Ashley Smith's rule on this as we heard the law enforcement, the marshal talking about because everyone there believed this could go on and on. The man had nothing to lose. He had killed cops, he killed law enforcement officers. Who else would be next? And as he said, they didn't count on Ashley Smith and what this drug addicted single mom was saying inside of her apartment that night that actually could have save not just her life and the life of Brian Nichols for that matter, but the lives of who knows how many cops who he might have tried to take down in those final moments if it hadn't ended the way it did?

Geraldo, great to see you.

RIVERA: You too.

KELLY: Incredible.

I'm watching him on the air that day from the Fox News Channel, DC Bureau and I'm thinking, this is unbelievable. And, of course, now major motion picture. And that's why.

Well, Ashley Smith tells the rest of her story when we come back including the dramatic account of the decision she made when she had the chance to escape.

Plus, we'll speak with Tony Perkins about what he thinks is the real message of this story.


KELLY: The Ashley Smith who was there before that encounter, is she still with us?



SMITH: I thought, stop, okay, if I treat him like a human being and not like somebody that just killed somebody, then maybe he'll let me go and nobody else has to die. I told him that my little girl didn't have a dad anymore -- (INAUDIBLE)


KELLY: That was Ashley Smith and the days after her hostage ordeal sharing her emotional first description of what happened with Brian Nichols during the tense seven hours in her apartment. Stunningly, even as she faced her own possible murder that night, Ashley had a chance to grab the gun that Nichols was carrying and shoot the man who was holding her hostage. And she didn't. Here now the next part of my interview.


KELLY: Your faith turned out to be your savior.


KELLY: And you start talking him. Did you have an instinct that there was the opportunity to form a bond with him?

SMITH: Well, I don't know. I've always been the type of person that tries to put myself in other people's shoes, what would I do in that situation. So I think I started to do that with him. Thinking if I were him, you know, what would I want? And, so, for me, my child was important to me. And that's one of the first questions that I asked him. Was, you know, did you have children? I asked him why he did what he did. That was another first question that I asked him. And just tried to spark conversation with him.

KELLY: And he had just had a baby a few days earlier.

SMITH: He had.

KELLY: So he was a new father.


KELLY: You were a mother, as well, and are. And one of the things that we didn't know about you when this story first broke, everyone like this, incredible woman, shed managed to get out of this ordeal. And then you revealed that you, yourself, were suffering greatly that night.


KELLY: You were addicted to crystal meth.


KELLY: And you had lost custody of your daughter for a time to your aunt because of your addiction. Your daughter's father was killed in connection with his own drug dealing. And you didn't see a clear path out of the hell in which you were living --


KELLY: -- even before Brian Nichols came to your door. And so, at one point in that evening, while he's got your captive in your own home, the topic turned to drugs.


KELLY: Did you offer him drugs? Or did he ask you for them?

SMITH: He actually asked me if I had any drugs in my apartment that night. I think he actually asked me for marijuana. And, you know, I just talked about, I was in the middle of a crystal meth addiction. I had done meth the night before all of this happened. And I had some leftover. I put it in a place that would be very obvious to him if he ran sight to my apartment, he had already halfway done. And so when he said, "do you have any drugs?" I told him, "yes." I didn't want him to find them and realize that I had lied to him.

KELLY: Did he have you walk him over to the drugs?

SMITH: He just had me go get them --

KELLY: Okay.

SMITH: And the he said, "Set it up for me." He said he had never done meth before.

KELLY: And so, he did the drugs.

SMITH: He did the drugs.

KELLY: And you described a moment of him doing them other and over. What was that like for your understanding that this killer was doing crystal meth in your apartment?

SMITH: Well, for me, as I began to watch him do, and I thought, you know what, this is crazy. I mean, first of all, I don't really know why I just offered this to him. Because it is a drug that made me very paranoid. It did some really crazy things to me. It made me do some really off-the- wall, outrageous things, as meth is known to do. So watching him do it was very scary for me. But you know also, he asked me three different times, do you want to use this with me? Why don't you do this with me? How about you do this with me? And I really believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ took the body of Brian Nichols at that moment in time.

And Brian Nichols was asking me if I wanted to do drugs with him. God was asking me if I wanted to do drugs with him, and if I did, then it was going to be the last time I ever did it and it was going to be the last day of my life. And I really believe that God was saying do you want to continue living this life or do you want a new one. Because if you say no, then I'll give you a new life, and you know to be quite honest, a new life, even for five minutes -- that sounded more appealing to me than the way I had been living.

KELLY: You see that now in retrospect. In the moment, were you conscious of that? Did you feel that presence? Or did you just feel a strong instinct, probably for the first time to say no.

SMITH: No, I felt the presence of God telling me. You know what, this is it. You can choose the old life or you can choose the new life. And I will give it to you. Like I said, I didn't know if I was going to make it out of there alive. I didn't know if it was going to be five minutes of a new life or 50 years of a new life. But as soon as I chose not to do those drugs, it was just a sense of freedom for me, you know. Physically, I was still being held captive. But I realize that Ashley Smith wasn't in control. And neither was Brian Nichols. But that Jesus was in control and the rest of the night was going to be the way he wanted it to be.

KELLY: There were among -- including that one, there's some stunning moments as the night when the night went on, including a couple opportunities to actually escape. There was a time -- first of all, where you -- he let you go to the bathroom and what was in the bathroom?

SMITH: The guns.

KELLY: So he realizes I sent her in there, she's got all the weapons now. And instead of grabbing them an turning them on him, you return them when he banged on the door and said give them back. Was that a conscious effort to build trust? Or was it just a fear of...

SMITH: Well, for me, it was just a fear because I had never really used a gun before. I thought to myself, if I pick up these guns and try to use them, I'll probably end up doing shooting or doing some damage to me. So that was totally...

KELLY: There was another opportunity where he convinced you to help him hide the get aid way car. He had stolen a car and killed it. I think that was the law enforcement officer's car. And he got you out of the apartment to help him hide it. Why didn't you run in those moments? What was it? Were you motivated by fear, or was it some knowledge that I'm going to get out of this.


KELLY: The story of how this hostage-taking finally ended is really amazing. But the story of what has happened since with Ashley Smith is just as powerful. You will hear both, and we'll speak with Tony Perkins when we return with the last part of Ashley's story.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you, I said it's going to take more of a man to walk out of this apartment and pay for what you did than it is to go out of this apartment with guns and lose your life over. So the choice is yours.


KELLY: Imagine for a moment that someone is holding you hostage. You know they have killed four people. They really have nothing to live for. And after spending seven hours wondering if that person was going to end your life, they suddenly set you free. Ashley Smith talks about what that feels like in the final part of her story.


KELLY: Why didn't you run in those moments? What was it? Were you motivated by fear, or was it some knowledge that I'm going to get out of this.

SMITH: I think looking back on it, even times when I read the book or watch the movie, even myself, go girl, you need to get out of there. You've got a chance. But I think several things went through my mind at that point in time. Number one, my car was not -- it wasn't a very good car and it had been breaking down on a very regular basis. And I think I feared that if I tried to get away, that it would immediately break down.

KELLY: It was too risky.

SMITH: Also, you know I really believe that God -- once I chose not to do the drugs, God took control and he began to leave that night. For me, I kept saying eventually, he will let me go. If I let him get in the car and go back to my apartment, then he's not going to have a get away car. He's going to be at my house all by himself at one point and he'll be surrounded. And so I think those things were going to my head.

KELLY: We saw the clip of Kate Mara playing you. And it looked like it was a rehab attempt. She throws the book, you throw the book in the garbage. Did that really happen?

SMITH: No, that didn't really happen.

KELLY: Had anybody introduced the book to you?

SMITH: Yes, it was introduced to me at a church that I went to. It was actually the very first time I had been to church in many years.

KELLY: The first time someone introduced the book, A Purpose-Driven Life to you, what effect did it have on you?

SMITH: It actually did have an effect on me. You know on the cover of A Purpose-Driven Life, it says what on earth we are here for. For me I needed an answer to that question. As a matter of fact, as I sat church that day before they even introduced the book, I began to thank God. I don't even no why I'm here at this church service. I shouldn't be here. I'm not worthy of being here. But you know I want my life to change, but I don't know how. I'm in this place to where I just get up and do drugs. It's not because I want to, it's just a way of life. That's what I do to survive and I want to change. Right about that time, the pastor said the church is going to be reading this book. If you want one, they're so and so money and if you don't have the money, then please just get one anyway. So I picked it up and started to read it.

KELLY: What made you pull it out and start reading it to Brian Nichols that night?

SMITH: I happened to be reading it. I was on the 32nd chapter. I had been reading it for 32 days, and after I chose not to do the drugs, I felt a huge need to back up my decision with scripture or something that involved God. And so I asked Brian Nichols if I can read. And he said yeah, you can read if you can read it out loud. He made me read it out loud to him.

KELLY: The passage you read was from the chapter 32, using what God gave you. And it reads in part, using what God gave you. What you are is God's gift to you. What you do with yourself is your gift to God, God deserves your best. He shaped you for a purpose and expects you to make the most of what you have been given. That resonated with him.

SMITH: It did. Yes.

KELLY: He asked you follow up questions. Tell us.

SMITH: Well, we had been talking before that about, you know, each other. I had already told him my first husband was killed and things like that. So he said, you know, maybe you need to minister to people. Maybe you need to share your life with them to help other people. He also asked me what I thought he should do. Should he turn himself in and what should he do? And I told him, he had to turn himself in and maybe his purpose in life was to minister to people in prison.

KELLY: Do you know whether he's now doing that?

SMITH: I don't.

KELLY: You haven't had any contact with him?

SMITH: I haven't had any contact with him. But if I were to have contact with him that would be the biggest question I would ask him. Is he using his second chance?

KELLY: So now we're getting ahead of ourselves. We're still back on this night in March of 2005. You read him the passage, the night goes on. You wind up making him pancakes in the morning. How did you get out?

SMITH: He just let me go. I had been asking all night long from the very beginning. I kept telling him I'm supposed to see her. I said listen, if I don't show up to this meeting, then people are going to wonder. My family is going to say this is strange. She's never missed a meeting with Page and they're going to come looking for me. And there were many times when I asked several, he said no, you're not going anywhere. And as the night went on, he started to change his mind. When I would ask him -- maybe I'll let you go, we'll see how it goes. And about 9 o'clock that morning, he said what time do you need to leave to see Page? And of course I was like now is a really good time. And he just let me leave.

KELLY: Describe the feeling when you closed that door behind you.

SMITH: You know when I closed the door behind me, it still was too good to be true. My knees were just shaken as I walked to the car and I think when I finally got in the car, cranked it and made it around the corner I was like -- a sigh of relief you know like, wow, kind of almost -- did that just happen and then realizing yes, it happened. And even more so I think I walked away going that just completely changed my life.

KELLY: You called 911. Were you there when the law enforcement officers arrived?

SMITH: Actually, well, they told me to go back and go to a safe place. They sent some officers to meet me there. They didn't send any other officers until they were sure it was him, that I had to take them to find the truck, and after that it was -- when we got back there were helicopters, it was people everywhere.

KELLY: Describe -- I'm trying to get to the point of before and after. The Ashley Smith who he was there before that encounter, is she still with us?

SMITH: I'm not in a spiritual warfare anymore. I'm not fighting that anymore. The person that was there that night was still a human being. I think she is still here because that person was a sinner saved by God's grace. Today I'm still just a sinner saved by God's grace. You know, that night, I laid down my brokenness to God and I gave it to him. That's what changed.

KELLY: Did you ever do drugs again?


KELLY: And tell us what happened with Page and your family life?

SMITH: Page and I lived with my aunt and uncle for about a year after this happened. I wanted to be very solid in being a mom before I took the world on my own. I got remarried in 2007 to my husband Daniel. I've been married for eight years. Page is now 16. We have a 14-year-old stepdaughter, and we have a 4-year-old son together. You know, I have gone around the world sharing my story to different churches, recovery homes, women's events, you know just doing life. I love more than anything being a mom and I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to be mom again today.

KELLY: So many people think of the story is about the book? What do you think this story is about?

SMITH: I think the story is a story of redemption. Not everybody can say my life is affected by drugs. And I think this story is really about laying down your brokenness and giving it to God, getting back on the path that he has planned for us. And I hope people, when they go see the movie, I hope they walk away and say you know what, if God did it for her, he'll do it for me, too.

KELLY: Ashley, best of luck to you and your family. Thank you so much for being here.

SMITH: Thank you.


KELLY: Well, the folks promoting the movie version of Ashley Smith's life describe the film as "A thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives." But Tony Perkins thinks it is about more than that, and he joins us next.



KELLY: In the moment were you conscious of that, that presence? Did you feel that presence or did you just feel a strong instinct probably for first time to say no?

SMITH: No, I felt the presence of God telling me, you know what? This is it. You can choose the old life or you can choose the new life. And I will give it to you. Like I said, I didn't know if I was going to make it out of there alive. I didn't know if it would be 5 minutes of a new life or 50 years of a new life. But as soon as I chose not to do those drugs, it was just a sense of freedom for me. You know physically, I was still being held captive, but I realized that Ashley Smith wasn't in control and neither was Brian Nichols, but that Jesus was in control. And the rest of the night was going to be the way that he wanted it to be.


KELLY: Ashley Smith says the story of her kidnapping and what happened in that apartment is a story of redemption. A woman and a man both struggling with personal demons are thrown together by fate in a moment of enormous potential violence, and each emerges somehow better for the experience. Joining me now Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council. Tony is also an ordained minister, who still speaks to different congregations around the country, and he's author of the new book No Fear, Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth, Tony, good to see you.


KELLY: The story has to move even nonbelievers a little to stop and consider what the power of faith and God can do in your life.

PERKINS: It's a powerful story. And as a reporter, you know, as a law enforcement officer, I've not seen many cases end like this. It really is the power of redemption as she -- you know, simply read from the Purpose-Driven Life and that message of forgiveness and redemption, which all of us are really down deep, whether we admit it or not, are searching for that peace that only comes through forgiveness, that comes through Jesus Christ. She tells that story, two lives transformed both on wrong paths but they come out of there forgiven. They have to pay for the choices they've made but forgiven.

KELLY: And she paid as well you know for her drug addiction and losing custody of her daughter for a time. And then obviously that night was the beginning of a new life for her. Are you surprised that Hollywood chose to make a movie like this?

PERKINS: Somewhat, but not completely because this is -- this is really an inspiring story. It's a tragic story. Four people lost their lives in this. But it does show the power of forgiveness and transformation. This thing ended the way it did. And you can't argue with the evidence. Some people would say that religion stuff, I'm not all for it. Just like Nichols said, I don't want that church B.S. The reality is the evidence is there. This thing ended in a peaceful situation where he surrendered himself. And as you said earlier, he had no reason to do that after taking four lives. He could have killed her and other people and himself on the way out. But it ended different because of that message, that's the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It transforms lives and makes prisoners free.

KELLY: Is it any sort of a testament to -- I mean, people can argue about God in the public square, but at least keeping the porch light on for God in the public square. We're sort of removing God from every corner of life right now. And you see the power of faith and belief in him that can change lives in this story.

PERKINS: That is why we must keep that light going because you see it. The evidence is overwhelming. Look at my home state of Louisiana. Angola prison where the most dangerous prison -- one of the most dangerous in the United States transformed by the interjection of faith where they're actually having a revival in that prison. It's the power of the gospel. It transforms even the lives of prisoners.

KELLY: And the story of forgiveness. The ability of this woman taken hostage in her own home, bound up, left in her bathroom. She didn't know what was going to happen to her. And knowing he had killed four others, she in the moment finding the power to forgive.

PERKINS: Not only to forgive, but the peace that -- think about that as a young woman, being in a situation with a guy you know has just killed four people. You know he was a rapist. She had the peace, as she just told you that because of God speaking to her, that she could make a choice and she made that choice and God walked through that event with her.

KELLY: It's amazing. And it is an inspiration to just do better and be better. Tony, it's great to see you.

PERKINS: And take that and receive that forgiveness. It's powerful.

KELLY: Thanks for being here.

PERKINS: Thank you.

KELLY: We'll be right back.


KELLY: What do you think of the Ashley Smith story? Does it inspire you to forgive, to believe, to seek redemption? Let us know, and on twitter @megynkelly. Thanks for watching. And don't forget tonight we will be back live at midnight with fair and balanced coverage of the GOP debate. Frank Lutz and his focus group will be here along with Ben Carson, Marc Thiessen, Chris Stirewalt, Dana Perino, Ann Coulter. It goes on. I'm Megyn Kelly. This is “The Kelly File.”

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