Jennifer Wilbanks's fianc may still wed his bride-to-be who faked her own kidnapping

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 02, 2005 08:00 AM
Credit: JOe Cavaretta/AP

A real-life runaway bride – Jennifer Wilbanks, who allegedly faked her own kidnapping rather than marry her fianc – may still tie the knot after all.

Wilbanks’s fianc , John Mason, says he’s still committed to their relationship. “Just because we haven’t walked down the aisle, just because we haven’t stood in front of 500 people and said our ‘I Do’s, my commitment before God to her was the day I bought that ring and put it on her finger, and I’m not backing down from that,” he said Monday in an interview with Fox News.

There was no immediate statement from Wilbanks, who has not faced the media since she took a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas then went on to New Mexico while an intense manhunt was conducted to look for her – all in order to avoid getting married.

Meanwhile, Georgia officials are weighing whether to proceed with possible criminal charges against Wilbanks. The Duluth, Ga. mayor said Monday she is looking into the possibility of suing Wilbanks for the estimated $100,000 cost of searching for her. While Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter expressed relief that Wilbanks is safe, he said he’s looking into charging her for making false statements to the police.

“I’m glad we’re not working on an abduction murder case,” said Porter.

Wilbanks, who was scheduled to walk down the aisle at Duluth’s First United Methodist Church on Saturday night, initially told authorities via a dramatic 911 call that she had been abducted by “a Hispanic man and a Caucasian woman” while jogging. However, eventually she admitted to police that she ran away because she had cold feet over her 600-guest wedding to Mason, a 32-year-old medical office manager.

Wilbanks’s journey ended when she was led away by police in New Mexico with a towel hiding her face.

Porter said Wilbanks could face a misdemeanor charge of false report of a crime. It carries a penalty of up to a year behind bars. She could conceivably also face a felony charge of false statements. That carries a maximum of five years in prison.