Missing Georgia Woman Jennifer Wilbanks A Real "Runaway Bride"

Jennifer Wilbanks, the Georgia runaway bride, is escorted by police through the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saturday, April 30, 2005. Wilbanks first told police she had been kidnapped. She later confessed that she got cold feet regarding her wedding and that's why she vanished for several days.(AP Photo/JOe Cavaretta)

For days friends and family have searched for the Duluth, Georgia bride-to-be after she went for a jog Tuesday evening and never returned. Speculation turned towards the fiance John Mason as day past with no sign of Wilbanks. Today, on the day her wedding was scheduled, she was found in New Mexico.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Distressed, out of cash and in disguise, a missing Georgia bride-to-be turned up on a seedy stretch of Route 66 and told authorities Saturday she’d been abducted, then copped to the truth – she fled the pressure of her looming wedding.

Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, was picked up by police after a cross-country bus trip that took her through Las Vegas to a payphone outside an Albuquerque 7-Eleven where she called her fiance, John Mason, and 911 late Friday and said she had been freed by kidnappers.

As police began searching for the blue van she said her captors drove, an impromptu pre-dawn street party broke out outside the home Mason and Wilbanks shared.

But hours later, under questioning by police, Wilbanks admitted the road trip was voluntary.

She was “scared and concerned about her impending marriage and decided she needed some time alone,” Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said.

Police said there would be no criminal charges, although more than 100 officers led a search that involved several hundred volunteers, including many wedding guests and members of the bridal party.Assuming that the “time alone” has helped her decide she is ready for marriage; if you’re the fiance what do you do?

Update: Rita Crosby at Fox News is reporting that Duluth and GBI investigators discovered at least two prior cases of cold feet (though both may not have been weddings) in Wilbanks past. The sudden termination of the search for Jennifer Wilbanks Friday was a sign that Georgia officials determined that Wilbanks had most likely run away of her own accord. More on that as it develops…

Update 2: Runaway Bride Could Face Legal Charges [AP]

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101 Comments

  1. Jack May 10, 2005