Runaway Bride May Face Charges - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/2/05-Duluth, GA

Runaway Bride May Face Charges

It should have been a time of celebration, instead, Jennifer Wilbanks, her fiance and their families are in seclusion, waiting to hear if she will face charges for lying to police about her disappearance.

Last Tuesday, Wilbanks disappeared from Duluth, Georgia while jogging, and resurfaced in new Mexico five days later after a 911 call to police claiming she had been abducted. Under questioning, Wilbanks admitted she had just been nervous about her upcoming, lavish wedding.

One Georgia prosecutor now says it may be two weeks before an investigation is complete, but evidence indicates that Wilbanks's decision to flee appears to point to a planned getaway and not a spur of the moment decision.

"Cutting her hair, buying a ticket, these are what we're looking at," says DA Danny Porter. Authorities are also looking at Jennifer's past relationships and if she had a history of disappearances. The consequences could be expensive.

The mayor of Duluth is considering suing Jennifer Wilbanks to recoup the money spent trying to find her, that jurisdiction alone spent about a hundred thousand dollars.

"I have had 100's of e-mails saying they want some type of restitution for this young lady," says Mayor Shirley Lasseter.

"I feel sorry for her family," says one person.

"It is a false report. Clean up the park for a few weekend," says another person following this story.

While her punishment is up for debate, the owner of Brides and Bells in Tyler says calling off weddings and getting cold feet is common.

'We've been in the bridal biz 20 yeas and probably had about 20 canceled weddings," say Joann Owers.

But just because its common, doesn't mean Jennifer will get away without prosecution.

Wilbanks could face a misdemeanor charge for falsely reporting a crime or a felony charge for making false statements, and one to five years in jail.

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