Atlanta Hostage: 'An Angel from God'
Ashley Smith, who was forced at gunpoint into her apartment by Nichols – the man authorities say shot and killed four people at an Atlanta courthouse on Friday – said she read from chapter 33 of the spiritual book to help keep her captor calm.
"After I read it, he said: 'Stop, Will you read it again?" The passage she repeated was "about what you thought your purpose in life was – what talents were you given," according to Smith.
"He said he thought I was an angel sent from God, and that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ," said the young mother.
Smith, who was originally tied up by Nichols, said she humanized herself by discussing her 5-year-old daughter and telling him about how her husband was killed four years earlier.
"I told him if he hurt me, my little girl wouldn't have a mommy or daddy," said Smith, who cooked pancakes for the fugitive the next morning.
"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 lots more people are going to get hurt.'"
Smith said she told him that it was a "miracle" he had survived the massive manhunt for him. "You need to go to prison and share the word of God with all the prisoners there," Smith said she told Nichols.
Around 9:30 a.m., Nichols allowed Smith to leave to visit her daughter. She dialed 911 and a SWAT team surrounded the building at the Bridgewater Apartments, where Nichols surrendered. He was taken into custody just after 11:20 a.m.