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Tearful Runaway Bride Apologizes

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Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks, with her once-jilted fianc by her side, tearfully apologized in court Thursday and entered a plea of no contest to a felony count of making a false statement to police.

Wilbanks, who vanished on April 26 a few days before her planned wedding, was sentenced to two years of probation, 120 hours of community service and ongoing mental-health counseling. The judge also ordered her to pay the sheriff’s office $2,550.

“I’m truly sorry for my actions and I just want to thank Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth,” a weeping Wilbanks said in court. Earlier, she had surrendered to authorities, who charged her last week with making up a tale of being abducted.

Just days after disappearing in April, Wilbanks, 32, was found in New Mexico, where police say she initially told them she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted. She later recanted and admitted she’d actually fled by bus because of “personal issues.”

On Tuesday, Wilbanks agreed to pay $13,250 to the city of Duluth, Ga., to help pay for the overtime costs the city incurred searching for her.