Ashley and the Runaway Bride
by Janice Price
According to this morning’s newspaper headline, the woman dubbed the "runaway bride" by an overzealous news media has signed with a multimedia company to peddle her "compelling" life story as a movie. NBC’s Katie Couric has already interviewed the "bride" for national television. TV movie rights are being pitched for $500,000. A book deal will undoubtedly be announced shortly. This woman has found fame and soon she will have wealth, but neither will bring her peace of mind or happiness.
This woman abandoned her intended husband on the eve of their wedding. She caused her family untold anguish, cost taxpayers many thousands of dollars in search costs, and admitted to committing a crime by lying to law enforcement about being abducted and taken out of state against her will. She has pleaded no contest to the charge and repaid one county a token of what it spent searching for her. The other counties – and local merchants who lost sales revenue during the media stampede - are having to eat their losses.
Her story is lengthy and includes two good-sized photographs.
On page F1 is a tiny photo and a shorter article on Ashley Smith’s soon to be published story, Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero.
Ashley endured several hours as a hostage of a man on trial for violent rape. This man allegedly escaped the courthouse leaving one guard in serious condition, his trial judge and court reporter dead, one deputy dead in the street, two owners of hijacked vehicles injured, and a federal agent dead in a home he was building. She knew who the suspect was. His picture and story ran all day on the television.
How did she survive to tell her story? Although she was frightened, she remained calm and read portions of Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life to the suspect. She gained his trust by sharing her life, including the loss of her husband and her love for her child, and her faith with him.
Ashley is uncomfortable to be in the limelight because of circumstances that ended in tragedy for others. She says the reason she is telling her story is because she believes God is leading her to share her Christian faith to inspire others to turn their lives around.
Two different stories, with two similar fame and fortune outcomes, but which gets the best press coverage? The one which involves an acknowledged crime and includes a celebrity television interviewer in the publicity photographs.
But as for Ashley, the hostage who helped police capture a suspect without further violence or loss of life, she intends to donate a portion of her profits to a memorial fund she is establishing for the shooting victims. Out of the ashes of tragedy she is finding Godly purpose and direction for her life.
One is the type of story society considers newsworthy and the other is a news story of faith in action.
© 2005 Janice Price