Family Offers Reward In Missing Bride-To-Be Case - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/29/05-Duluth, Georgia

Family Offers Reward In Missing Bride-To-Be Case

DULUTH, Georgia- The family of a missing Georgia woman whose wedding was scheduled for Saturday has offered $100,000 for information leading to a breakthrough in the case.

Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, has been missing since Tuesday night when her fiance, John Mason, says she told him that she was going for a 40-minute run near their home in Duluth, a suburb northeast of Atlanta.

News of the reward preceded a police announcement that law enforcement has suspended its searches and will continue the investigation by responding to tips and analysis of hair found while canvassing the Duluth area.

During a Friday press conference to announce the reward, Wilbanks' uncle, Mike Satterfield said, "We love Jennifer very much. We would give our lives and everything we own to have her returned."

Satterfield said that Mason took a lie-detector test Friday and passed.

Duluth Police Chief Randy Belcher said a private examiner administered the polygraph test to Mason, whose attorney is still negotiating conditions of a state-administered exam.

Satterfield said that the family was not disturbed by the police request to give Mason a polygraph test.

"We consider it a normal process," he said. "It assures everyone that everything is being done to find out what has happened. It's normal; we treat it as something that has to be done."

Police have said the hope that Wilbanks disappeared intentionally is waning.

Belcher said the possibility Wilbanks developed "cold feet" before her wedding had been mostly ruled out.

"The longer this investigation continues, and she hasn't shown up, that theory is dwindling quickly," he said.

During the press conference, Wilbanks' mother sobbed heavily before people ushered her away.

Wiping tears from beneath his dark shades, Satterfield said the family was trying to cope with the disappearance and lack of theories and evidence.

With "our faith, our prayers and our friends ... we will make it through this," he said.

Extensive searches of the area around Wilbanks' home in Duluth produced little of evidentiary value, police said. "All these searches turned up nothing that was beneficial to us to bring this search to a conclusion," Belcher said.

On Thursday, police classified the case as a criminal investigation. While there is no indication a crime was committed, more resources are available in a such a probe, Belcher said.

Wilbanks is 5 feet 8 inches and weighs 120 pounds; she has brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a gray sweat shirt, blue sweat pants and blue New Balance running shoes, police said.

The search area once covered more than five square miles and had expanded to several more miles Thursday, Belcher said. Belcher said searchers found sweat pants in Duluth, sweatshirts in two nearby towns and some hair.

The clump of hair was found in a business complex in the Duluth area, Belcher said. The hair was consistent with Wilbanks' hair color and appeared to have been cut, Belcher said.

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