The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


The True Story Behind the Movie Captive

By Tim Branson and Cheryl Wilcox
The 700 Club -A lady on the street describes the scene to a reporter. “People were just running around saying, ‘get out of the courthouse! Get out of the courthouse!’”

The scene inside Atlanta’s Fulton County courthouse was chaotic and bloody. A man allegedly overpowered a courthouse deputy who was escorting him to his rape trial. He took the deputy's gun and then shot and killed the judge and court reporter. 

A local police officer reports, “The suspect is at large right now. He is identified as Brian Nichols.”

Police launched a massive manhunt. As news spread, residents locked their doors and waited.

At around 2 a.m. in northern Atlanta, Ashley Smith had just returned to her apartment after making a late night run to a convenience store. It was then that she noticed a suspicious looking man sitting in his car.

She felt uneasy, so she jumped out of her car and hurried to her apartment.. She put the keys in the lock, opened the door, and the stranger was right behind her.

“I started to scream at the top of my lungs and he came up to me (saying) ‘Shut up, shut up!’ He just pointed the gun at me. ‘Just shut up. If you don't scream I won't hurt you.’ So, I stopped screaming. And he pushed me in the house, and shut the door and locked it. And I knew I wasn’t going to make it out of there. I knew I was going to die. But I immediately said, "’God, look, he can rape me. He can do whatever he wants to me.  Just let me walk out of here alive.’”

Inside, he told Ashley he was Brian Nichols, the man police had been looking for.

“He had already killed three people to my knowledge; and he wasn’t going to stop. I immediately just started silently praying to God, ‘Just please get me out of here alive.  I’ve been through so many things in my life. I will get through whatever happens to me. Just please don’t kill me.’”

Nichols made her sit in her bathtub, and left the room. He returned with a roll of tape. 

“When he came back with the tape, I thought. ‘this was it. He’s going to strangle me with it. And he had an extension cord too. He’s going to strangle me with the extension cord. Or he’s going to tape me up first, rape me and strangle me. That’s it.’ I knew if I wanted to make it out of there alive I better do what he said.”

For ashley, that meant overcoming years of addiction to meth. She had been getting help and had turned to God. But couldn’t make a clean break; until now.

Tim Branson, 700 Club Reporter asked Ashley, “At one point he asked you if he had any pot to smoke. Tell me about that tell me what happened?”

“He asked me if I had any, I said, ‘no, but I have some ice.’ It was like God came in and said, “OK, here’s your choice. Now you can say no and go on and live doing great things I have planned for you. Or you can live this miserable, miserable life that you’ve been living. Immediately I said, ‘no.’”

This was the time for Ashley to wake up and start living her life again instead of continuing to die slowly.

Nichols snorted the meth and untied Ashley. She started telling him about her life, her struggles and her five year old daughter.  She also read to him from a book she had been reading called The Purpose Driven Life, by Pastor Rick Warren. Nichols seemed to relax as she talked. Then he asked Ashley what he should do.

“For him to ask me, ‘What do you think I should do?’ I wasn’t going to hold back. ‘Do you really want to know?’ is what I thought to myself. ‘Do you really want to know? You want to know?’ So I told him, ‘I think you should turn yourself in.’ He told me, ‘I have a demon inside of me.’ So, the whole spiritual warfare - I could get that. I could definitely see he was being pulled two different ways.”

And then finally, after seven hours, Nichols let Ashley go. She drove off in her car, and called 911. When police arrived, Nichols turned himself in and would be sentenced to life for the murder of 4 people.

For Ashley, her experience as a hostage helped her find freedom, because not only did she give up drugs, she committed her life fully to Jesus Christ. 

Later Ashley learned she was never alone on this journey. The women in this prayer group had been praying for Ashley for six years, including her Aunt Kim.

Kim explains, “We were asking God to free her. I mean that was just our hearts’ cry.  We wanted her free from this and we wanted her to see how much God loved her. And I think we were crying out for her freedom from this addiction and for her to see God. Another member of the group says, “We would ask God to show off. Right, I mean that was a direct quote in our prayers, ‘Be big. Show off.’  You know, ‘show Your power. Show Your glory. And that He would do something that would get her attention.  And He did.”

In time, Ashley put her life back together. She’s learned that when she prays, God is with her and always will be.

“My future is so much brighter now because I have a personal relationship with Jesus and that makes it, my world and my future so much brighter.”
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