Once, while SM was walking through an urban park at night, a man yelled at her to come over to the bench where he was sitting. Instead of bolting or freezing with fear, as most people would, SM walked over to him. When he then pulled out a knife and held it to her throat, she remained calm.
"She didn't freak out like anyone else would with a knife held to her throat by a drugged-out man," said Justin Feinstein, a clinical neuropsychologist at The University of Iowa in Iowa City.
"In the background, there was a nearby church choir finishing up practice," he continued. "She looks at the man and ever so gently says, 'If you're going to kill me, you're gonna have to go through my God's angels first.' This freaks the man out and he lets her go. The next day, she goes back on her walk through the park."
That wasn't the only occasion that SM, who was living in the projects in a seedy part of town, got herself into a precarious situation. There was the time, for example, that a man approached her from behind, put a gun to her head, yelled "Boom!" and then ran away. She figured her attacker was a drug dealer whom she had repeatedly turned in to the police, but she didn't consider calling the cops after the incident.