Katrina mayhem exaggerated and Amber Smith’s meth habit (or Don’t always believe what you hear at first)

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005 @ 6:05 pm | Uncategorized

It’s becoming clear that many of the tales of violence, rape and death that supposedly took place in New Orleans after Katrina was nothing more than exaggeration — rumors spread by a frightened and captive populace and reported as truth by government officials and the news media.

While it’s certain that people did suffer for far too long in NO, the worst of the stories we’ve heard are untrue or unsubstantiated. Piles of dead in the Superdome? They found six; three from natural causes, one suicide and one overdose. Rampant murders? Police so far have determined four homicides in the city. Rapes? None reported or substantiated. (That’s not to say that none took place, but the well-known story about the gang rape and slaying of a 10-year-old is very likely false). Even some widely-circulated reports of rude behavior by evacuees are unsubstantiated and contradicted by other accounts.

In another case of inaccurate assumptions comes the story of Amber Smith, the Atlanta woman who was held hostage by courthouse shooter Brian Nichols. Smith was praised by the media for diffusing the situation by discussing her faith with Nichols. She pulled out the book “A Purpose-Driven Life” and read to him a chapter from it.

The shocker? Smith reveals in her new book that at the time of her ordeal, she was struggling with a meth addiction, and had given her stash to Nichols. She even showed him a five-inch gash on her torso, which she suffered in a drug-related car accident. Luckily for Smith, the ordeal motivated her to kick her drug habit.

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