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Parents of Runaway Bride to be Charged?

You probably have heard that police may file charges against the runaway bride in Georgia. But clearly they should file charges instead against her parents for allowing that wedding to get so absurdly out of control. According to reports, this would have been a wedding with 600 guests, 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. You can just imagine the rest: Four bands, a circus tent, the entire oyster harvest of Appalachicola Bay, champagne spurting from an ice sculpture the size of a Winnebago, a 30-minute fireworks display, an Air Force flyover, ceremonial doves released to the wind, etc. This country needs to clamp down on ostentatiousness. We need to say to these sorts of people: Your wedding is criminal. Your wedding is FELONIOUS. Poor Jennifer Wilbanks didn't need all that foofaraw. She needed a simple wedding in front of the Justice of the Peace. And because this is America, we must blame the parents (BTP).

Of course I am biased because my own fishing-pier wedding was so austere that it was only at the last minute that I succumbed to social pressure and invited my fiancee.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 2, 2005; 7:19 AM ET
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Next: My Funeral


At first I thought I was re-reading your post about what you wanted your funeral to be like, except there didn't seem to be any wailing and rending of garments (I guess that's more of a honeymoon thing).

In order to get these weddings under control, I believe you have to go after the brides' magazines. But that may prove to be difficult, since those publishing houses have walls 4 issues thick. I'm not sure even our bunker busters could penetrate that.

Posted by: corndog | May 2, 2005 9:53 AM | Report abuse

With all these pious ministers getting into the act, I ask why the couple was never counseled against living together before marriage?

Posted by: norman | May 2, 2005 9:58 AM | Report abuse

You're 100% correct. The runaway bride should've opted for a Justice of the Peace. My wife and I were married in the chambers of a Fairfax County judge. It was great. Simple. Only problem is now she wears a t-shirt that reads, "I WAS MARRIED BY A JUDGE. I SHOULD'VE ASKED FOR A JURY."

Posted by: Don Eye | May 2, 2005 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Fiancee. Not fiance. Based on previous entries, I know you married a woman.

Posted by: copy editing | May 2, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

She should have to pay for the police force used.

Posted by: Blogger | May 2, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

With the divorce rate as high as it is, it's crazy to spend big bucks on lavish weddings.

My husband and I were married in Alexandria VA by a justice of the peace in 1994. Our wedding backdrop was some wooden shelves and a can of WD-40. I wouldn't change a thing!

Posted by: Pat | May 2, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Still, the most bizarre part of this, for me, is relatives running around claiming that this wedding/marriage is still going to happen. Wonder if they have talked to him about that, and if they have and he's making such an insane claim, what can he be thinking? That he'll ever have a single moment when he can feel secure?

Posted by: Slim | May 2, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm impressed that you were so heavily involved in your wedding planning; usually the bride does most of the work, from what I hear.

I've also been told that the main advantage of having a big ol' wedding to plan is that the couple gets to find out, while there's still time to back out, just how the two of them deal with adversity and high stress situations. Clearly there was just a little too much information revealed in this case.

Posted by: Eli | May 2, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Clearly the Runaway Bride liked everything about getting married -- the planning, the parties, the big rock -- except the wedding itself. Sheesh. I'm so getting married in Vegas.

Posted by: Girly Girl | May 2, 2005 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Well, they wanted to be the talk of the town, most likely... Careful what you wish for, eh?

Posted by: Huntsman | May 2, 2005 10:38 AM | Report abuse

OK, copy editor, I changed fiance to fiancee. But I don't know how to put the little accent mark over the e on my keyboard and I don't want to learn how to do that, because I'm past the point of learning anything new. It is all that I can handle to learn the difference between fiance and fiancee.

Posted by: Achenbach | May 2, 2005 10:42 AM | Report abuse

What I wonder is, all the money and police time was spent BEFORE she actually made any false claims. Doesn't a grown woman have the right to just go away and be alone somewhere? Was that part criminal? Sure it was inconsiderate, but criminal?

It sounds like her false story didn't last but a few hours--if that, and as far as I can tell the nationwide hunt happened before that. How can they charge her for expenses, when really the criminal part didn't cause many, if any, expenses to be incurred?

This whole situation is very troubling and strange. Also a very strong argument for good pre-marital counseling as well!

Posted by: wondering? | May 2, 2005 10:44 AM | Report abuse

What am I going to do with all of this crappy china I bought for them! I don't even like the pattern.

Posted by: Mike | May 2, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Just because a police force over-reacted and went all out, doesn't make her at fault. I mean, how many people go out for a "pack of cigarettes" or whatever they call it these days, and just take off...The all-news-all-the-time hype makes personal events like this into public hysteria. "In late breaking news, Joshua M. from Lake George has just opened a box of tissues for himself - video up next!"

I was wondering if they were going to have interviews with the bus driver that took her to New Mexico - perhaps an indepth with the other passengers on the bus - you could probably get a 30 minutes special on Fox entitled "When Brides Run Away!"...

The possibilities are endless for at least the next 5 minutes...

Posted by: DC | May 2, 2005 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Re: your funeral plans... reading the list of species that find your clay sacred, I was surprised you stopped at bacteria... Surely the very bosons and mesons must find themselves grateful to be a part of the Achenbach (sniff.. oh, you're burning in the depths of a red giant? Well, _I'm_ part of a nucleus in an atom in a molecule of an element if Joel Achenbach's appendix!)

Posted by: riverrun, past Eve and Adam's | May 2, 2005 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, can we stop judging these people we don't even know. I heard some psychologist on tv over the weekend explaining why she ran, why she lied, and if she'd still get married. I heard another lawyer saying how horrible of a person this woman is for running away. HOW THE H-E-double hockey sticks do these women know?!?!?!!? I could just imagine CNN producers salivating over the drama! It's disgusting! More real news please instead of indignant righteousness!

Posted by: anon | May 2, 2005 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Why blame the parents? This woman is 32 years old, old enough to know better. Place the blame squarely on her, where it belongs.

Posted by: Lisa | May 2, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Some of you act like you want to stone her. She did commit fornication but not adultery as far as we know. Let it go.

Posted by: norman | May 2, 2005 11:59 AM | Report abuse

600 people. 28 in the wedding party. And not one friend she could turn to? Pretty sad...

Posted by: Kim | May 2, 2005 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't believe that they had a 28-person wedding party. Where can you get married where you can fit that many people on the platform? I don't think they had that many attendants at the Charles & Diana wedding in 1981, and that one involved royalty with relatives all over the world.

There's enough blame to go around: the bride, for not expressing her doubts before it got to the point of running away; the parents, for helping to plan such a massive affair; the groom, for letting things get so out of hand. I hope everything works out for all of these people, but I'd be disappointed if someone doesn't get stuck with the bill for the law-enforcement expenses. Maybe the bride's parents should use the money for the 600-guest wedding to pay the police instead.

Posted by: Phil | May 2, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

She was probably dreading writing all those "Thank You" cards.

I blame Bush.

Posted by: Ray | May 2, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering if this whole search would have taken place had the family not had the (obvious) financial backing to get the media involved?!?!

Posted by: ChickieBaby | May 2, 2005 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I married my wife in front of a judge in Waukegan, IL. Cost me $5, I think. Best $5 I ever spent. OBjoke: I've *OWNED* her for the last 26 years.. :-)

Seriously: a 600 person wedding party? No wonder she ran away: the thought of the *DEBT* scared her sh**less!

Save the money, folks -- it's a *BAD* idea to enter a new relationship laden with debt. Have a small "do", get deli platters from the local supermarket, and a nice cake. Invest the bankroll -- and spend it on a nice 25th anniversary party.

Posted by: Burt | May 2, 2005 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Too bad for the person that's really missing. Any time spent searching for her could have helped many others who really needed help. How stupid to not just speak up and say I don't want to get married. What a waste of precious time. 600 folks invited and she couldn't call out to a single one?! Who are these friends/family to her -- how sad.

Posted by: Sherri | May 2, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The thing that bothers me about all of this is that folks from the South don't need any more bad press. Southerners, particularly Rednecks and Hillbillies, are the only group of people that it is politically correct to use as the butt of a joke these days. They call us "Goobers" and forget that W.C.Handy and Talluah Bankhead were also from Alabama. Remember, our necks got red from picking cotton and other honest work. I personally know Alabama Rednecks who used to pick cotton who are now teaching at M.I.T. and other institutions we value. And remember that it was a bunch of Alabama Rednecks (with a little help from some German immigrants) who built the first Saturn Five rocket from scratch. Yes, we have some nuts down here. But there are a lot more per square mile in New York City, exceeded only by Washington, D.C. I am so glad they have outlawed guns in those cities. Let's face it, spoiled rotten children (of all ages)are a nationwide problem. BTP, absolutely.

Posted by: crazycharleyd | May 2, 2005 12:50 PM | Report abuse

she filed a false report of a criminal act: she claimed to have been abducted, after calling 911. that would be the possible criminal charge.

i have no clue what her problem is. personally, i don't even much care, this is hardly an earth shaking issue. however, i wonder how come all the other hundreds of "disappeared" people don't get this kind of air play?

she also apparently bought the bus ticket to las vegas two weeks ago, hardly spur of the moment. i wonder who all else was in on this with her?

Posted by: cp | May 2, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

As a Protestant minister whose done his share of these "weddings of the century, (though none this large), I understand how couples/families like to celebrate a love that culminates in commitment. The problem here is that no one knew this young woman well enough to know some of her inner demons and she did not trust anyone well enough to talk about it. Meanwhile, as the morning talk shows blather on about this, North Korea is exploding nuclear missiles in the Sea of Japan with compratively less notice.

Posted by: swcaraway | May 2, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry. What type of marriage are we trying to defend? I'm terribly confused now.

Posted by: Meaghan | May 2, 2005 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Now it can be told: regulars of Joel's blog should not be surprised to discover the REAL reason for the entire escapade -- she ran off to Vegas for a 55-hour marriage to an ivory-billed woodpecker.

Posted by: TedFromYonkers | May 2, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

If you really want to punish the woman, make her attend (and pay for) that monstrous wedding. Even if she doesn't really want to marry her emasculated fiance, make her do everything but the I-dos. Force her to receive every guest and send out 600 hand-written thank-you notes. Make the punishment fit the crime.

Posted by: Jim | May 2, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

truth of the matter is, i have been to weddins bigger than the one planned for her. and i remember seeing the bride there. princess diana didnt bail out on her wedding either.
why is it that everytime someone does something wrong (and lets not fool ourselves here, what she did was wrong) we must try to find someone or something else to blame it on.
its a shame. a real shame.

Posted by: fa836659 | May 2, 2005 1:19 PM | Report abuse

TedFromYonkers has finally revealed the truth, albeit only a partial truth. This was actually done as the two hour premiere for CSI:Crime Scene Investigation - Reality Version.

Posted by: PeterK | May 2, 2005 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Why blame her parents - isn't it society's fault or at least the "liberal" media's fault??? :D

Posted by: Beth | May 2, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse

No, she didn't do this the right way and yes, police wasted time on this when they could have been solving real missing persons cases. Still my heart goes out to her. I was tempted to flee my wedding and oh, how I wish I'd given into that impulse. Sometimes your gut just knows...

Posted by: SamD | May 2, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

To make an é (on a Windows PC), hold down ALT while pressing 0, 2, 3, 3. Now You Know.

Posted by: Jake | May 2, 2005 1:39 PM | Report abuse

This fits my theory: the bigger the wedding, the shorter the marriage. This one was so big it didn't even make it to the marriage! You get so wrapped up in the "event" that the marriage itself takes a back seat. My wedding had 20 people in attendance, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, cost less than $1000 to put on (including dinner for 20) and was beautiful. We'll be married 10 happy years this summer and are still going strong!

Posted by: Beth | May 2, 2005 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Better a cuckold nigh, prior to fancy fiances finances.

The late ANdrea Dworkin would have approved of Wilbanks flight from a life of legalized rape. I don't ascribe to that definition, but it is relevant today. The marriage that should be at the plush core of soft news is Mary Kay LeTourneau - the teacher who seduced an eleven year old - now, set to make the sordid affair a legal matter, baby, legal - from now on.

The Mrs. Robinson's double-standard for sex offenders protects villians from the vile and squires arrows for salvo upon salvo of nocturnal emission.

Here's a pragamatist solution for the Wilbanks fiasco. The would-be wedding blow-out should have sufficient funds in store to pay back all the law enforcement who dedicated around-the-clock-effort to track down Miss Muffett.

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

What the heck was that rambling by Peter. Did anyone else understand a word he was saying?

Anyway, this woman clearly had some problems. The biggest was the fact that out of so many people she had no one to turn to to talk to about this. Or did she? You hear all the rumors that she bought the ticket weeks ahead of time and that someone helped her. If all of these are true, then she clearly had a presence of mine to make these decisions she should have been able to talk to someone. If she had help doing this, then she clearly must have told that person what she was planning and why. I just find it hard to believe this something that she did on the spur of the moment and that she did not have some help with her plan.

Posted by: chuck | May 2, 2005 2:12 PM | Report abuse

My question is how many people go out for a jog after 8 P.M. in the evening with enough money in their pocket to spontaneously purchase a ticket to Las Vegas and still have about $140 left over? I can't remember having that much money in my pocket at once in a very long time, let alone when I go out jogging. Surely she must have planned this. It seems clear that this is pre-meditated.

Posted by: Jerry | May 2, 2005 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Blame the parents?!!! Absurd, what about personal responsibility? She is the one to blame, not the parents.

Posted by: Ken | May 2, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

chuck, and Joel, I guess
The plural of one fiance plus one fiancee, is two fiances.

The Who's Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy album includes the tracks, "Legal Matter" and "Boris the Spider"

Marriage usually is a legal matter, baby.

And Boris the Spider simply scared Miss Muffett from her tuffett. And now her family must pay.

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Why blame her parents? This WOMAN is 32-years-old. She should have been mature enough to make her own decisions regarding her marriage. But then again, what kind of mature woman asks 14 other women to be in her wedding party? Someone's afraid of the word no...which is probably what she should have said when she was first offered the ring.

Posted by: Jen | May 2, 2005 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about her...I just learned how to do this - é.

It is very sad that she felt she had to run away. My wedding was a pretty big deal, nothing on the scale to this. I remember the stress and the feeling very uncertain about life and where this was taking me, but I cannot understand how running away helps.

She obviously has some growing up to do.

Posted by: mt | May 2, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

It's like the birders comments all over again with some of you. "Blame the parents?!" you cry! Well, looks like Joel was frekkin' JOKING.

Posted by: Mommy | May 2, 2005 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Joel is writing tongue-in-cheek, which doesn't mean joking. "Ostentatious" being stretched into "felonious" is tongue-in cheek. To the extent that her family can re-imburse law enforcement for the search, it should, that's no joke.

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but has anyone figured out what the heck Peter is talking about?

This woman, like Peter, clearly has some problems that need to be addressed, such as being straight forward with what she wants and what she is saying

Posted by: us | May 2, 2005 2:54 PM | Report abuse

While I am a strong proponent of parents' responsiblility for their dependent children -- not their adult sons and daughters --, the issues at hand, it seems to me, involve choice, agency, and adult responsiblity on the part of a 32 year old woman, even if her parents were/are paying for the entire spectacle.
It is not any parent's responsibility to dictate to a 32 year old son or daughter, who is competent to enter into any number of contractual relationships with other consenting adults, how they ought to proceed with their nuptials.
As for the distaste for the excess associated with an event that the two principals frequently experience as a stress filled blur, I believe that such decisions, not unlike selecting a Hummer to drive around in the city,is a matter of personal taste, choice, and available resources.
As for intimating that mommy and daddy should take the blame for an adult child's behavior?? That dog don't hunt. If you are, or choose in the future to be a parent, only time, fate, destiny, providence, karma, kismet or whatever belief system to which you may (or not) subscribe -- not exclusively your own childhood rearing -- will determine the way that you will behave toward your adult sons or daughters.

Posted by: Edna | May 2, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A, You don't know from austere.

I was married in my husband's childhood home, on Long Island, by a Justice of the Peace. His parents and sister were in attendance. I tried to get my mother to come for the ceremony, from Indiana. Her reply: Why can't you just elope, like I did?

Not that I want to compliment my mother, but there's much to recommend that approach. My daughter is 12. We'll start with subtle hints.

Posted by: Miss Btnz | May 2, 2005 2:59 PM | Report abuse

People can spend as much money as they like on a wedding - whether it be 1,000 or 100,000. If they have the $$$ to spend and they want to spend it - or don't - isn't the issue here. The details of her wedding party and exorbitant guest list are just fluff - exciting, *sensational* fluff - but fluff nonetheless...(altough having been a bridesmaid several times I feel pity for those who probabally spent too much for a seafoam green frock they'll never wear again - with matching dyed shoes UGH...)

The real issue here is that this woman has some issues she needs to work out. For some reason she felt she needed to escape. Secretly booking a trip to Vegas, not telling a soul where she was going, altering her appearance to not be recognized, and LYING to the police in a fake 911 call ... all of these things SCREAM, "I have some problems, some really big issues I ned help with!"

Hopefully she can find some professional help to for her issues, for she is in desperate need of it!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2005 3:06 PM | Report abuse

People can spend as much money as they like on a wedding - whether it be 1,000 or 100,000. If they have the $$$ to spend and they want to spend it - or don't - isn't the issue here. The details of her wedding party and exorbitant guest list are just fluff - exciting, *sensational* fluff - but fluff nonetheless...(altough having been a bridesmaid several times I feel pity for those who probabally spent too much for a seafoam green frock they'll never wear again - with matching dyed shoes UGH...)

The real issue here is that this woman has some issues she needs to work out. For some reason she felt she needed to escape. Secretly booking a trip to Vegas, not telling a soul where she was going, altering her appearance to not be recognized, and LYING to the police in a fake 911 call ... all of these things SCREAM, "I have some problems, some really big issues I ned help with!"

Hopefully she can find some professional help to for her issues, for she is in desperate need of it!

Posted by: lauraann98 | May 2, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

So, some prosecutor in Georgia might charge the runaway bride with making a false statement in New Mexico. Exactly where does this Georgia peach get that authority?
Face it; There is no law against a person deciding not to get married. And if she planned to run away in advance, so what? there is no law against that either. Also, as an adult, she was not required to tell anyone where she was going or to notify anyone of her whereabouts. That's why we call this a free country.

Posted by: R.T. Briggs | May 2, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

us - my dithered rhythms resist the dishonest buffooneries of mob-eloquence, mea culpa, plucky. Dost thou pretend to decipher the soul's signature?

Joel's texts wander somewhere between autobiographical, orthographical, orinthological, onto-theological, scatological, and eschatological, and so long as the ham-handed are glazed and succulent, then res ipsa loquitor.

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Why can't I get the special e? I did what was posted....I don't know what was going on with that woman, but I, for one, would have liked a bigger wedding (Mom made the dress, and Dad spent less than $1,000 on everything else). Well, at least I got a decent husband out of the deal (19 years of wedded bliss, come June). I can't get too mad at the woman, what with murderers and pedophiles around to spend the energy on.

Posted by: lauraR | May 2, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I think the runaway bride is awesome. Serves all those people right for falling into the media's trap. Why are we all so invested in other (straight) people's marriages?

Posted by: Rob | May 2, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Miss Wilbanks is alive and safe; however, I think it's unfortunate that precious law enforcement resources were wasted on her lies. Those resources could have been used to find missing and exploited children or to protect other citizens from violent crime. Once she seeks professional help for herself, Ms. Wilbanks should do the right thing and pay restitution to local law enforcement, just like the college student who faked her disapperance in 2004.

Posted by: buffy | May 2, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The FBI should hoist up Miss Muffett by the false statements that she made (she claimed to have been sexually assaulted by her kidnappers) - if the local law enforcement authorities that conducted the 24/7 search are not duly reimbursed by her family. Tax payers don't want to pay for her fraudulent tantrum.

Miss Muffett's cold feet and uncertainty about marriage demand sympathy. But her premeditated flight and subsequent web of deception demand accountability. Reach into the wedding expense account and pay the police. That's the right thing to do.

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

While I don't approve what Jennifer Wilbanks did (costing the police, which of course means the taxpayers, time and money chasing after a faked kidnapping), I can totally understand why she'd get cold feet. Whose idea was it to turn her nuptials into a Broadway extravaganza with a 30-person wedding party and 600 guests? I'm willing to bet it wasn't hers. I'm sure she and her fiancé have many dear and close family and friends, but I have a hard time believing that they couldn't bring themselves to choose fewer than 14 each to stand up for them at their wedding. It's not hard to detect the voice of an interfering relative saying, "But [insert name of friend or relative here] will be SO hurt not to be included!" More likely said friend or relative would be more than happy to join everyone else in the pews in his/her Sunday best rather than be asked to dress up in an uncomfortable, impractical, expensive outfit that he/she will never wear again in order to be one in an anonymous line of supporting players to the Happy Couple.

Never mind the astronomical expense (and one does wonder who was to foot the bill for all this). I don't blame the bride one iota for not wanting to be paraded out as the central showpiece of this production, which has all the hallmarks of someone else's ego being massaged at the expense of good sense and restraint. Turning a wedding into a giant ego trip is not the exclusive province of celebrities and Hollywood stars, the difference here being that the ego being promoted is seldom that of the bride and/or groom. Just ask any clergyperson how many mothers-of-the-bride from hell he/she has dealt with over the years!

And on the subject of clergypersons, it is rather odd that the family's minister didn't step up early on and say, "This is getting out of hand." Perhaps, their home being the land of huge churches with 5000 people in attendance on Sundays, he's accustomed to oversized services. Or perhaps I'm used to a different kind of cleric who isn't shy about reining in an out-of-control event before it degenerates into chaos.

Posted by: jetski | May 2, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

First of all, a wedding that size is clearly obscene. Sheesh! She probably doesn't know half of the people attending. Secondly, the R-A-B is 32 years old. Blame and responsbility should go squarely on her shoulders. However, if her parents paid for this obscenely large wedding without fuss, they should share the jail cell with her. Thirdly, photos in the press showed someone not quite all together --the deer in the headlights stare. Not much going on between the ears. Red flags should have gone up way before the 600 invitations were mailed out.

Posted by: WASP | May 2, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I find it hard to feel sorry for this woman. After all, at age 32 one would think she was capable of speaking up and simply telling her hubby to be that she didn't want to get married. I wonder though, was it the marriage itself that scared her off or the elaborate ceremony that was planned. Either way, I feel sorry for her hubby to be. I hardly think he will be able to fully trust her without the help of some counseling. They were already living together, why bother getting married? See, they should have just kept things the way they were. As for charges, only thing I think she should be made to do is publicly apologize to her husband to be and everyone who was out there looking for her. For shame on her that she didn't have the sense to call and let others know she was ok and explain why she left. Im not completely convinced that this chickiepoo didn't meet and greet someone she had met on the internet and fly the coop only to find out later that wasn't what she thought it would be. Anyone else think her hopping a bus to Las Vegas was "fishy."

Posted by: Barbara | May 2, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Enough already! The media is at it again focusing on the trivial -- CNN carried it at top of the news and declared it was the story of the day, all day long. What a worthless bunch you are.

Posted by: Kathleen | May 2, 2005 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I think the really absurd thing is this, we can find so much time to spend on a subject that has nothing to do with us one way or the other. Most of us were not even invited to the wedding, involved in the search, or served as a willing shoulder for the would-be bride to cry on. Let's move on to areas of our own lives which require examination and pray that we are not the next subject of speculation from the all knowing public.

Posted by: Terri | May 2, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I blame the would-be **groom's** parents for raising such a doofus. He goes out early-on saying how it ain't possible she ran away because she left her keys, purse, credit cards and DIAMOND RING at the house.

Hello? If she left her ring, it was probably a pretty good clue, no?

Posted by: just me | May 2, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh the power! Judges, Politicians, Preachers, the wedding of the century! All that wonderful southern tradition, and one young woman under the control of those who seek a grand show. Fourteen brides maids and 14 groomsmen. Is there a mother? Only heard of a step mother. A uncle and a step father to retrieve her? Why? Where are the women? Ah yes, stone her in the town square. She is the victim of a big event and for who?
That poor woman has been spun out, wound up, controlled, pushed and prodded and placed right up against a stone wall. For the moment she ran, let the wealthy parents pay for any damages, they wanted the exposure. This is just a blip on the planet, she can be her own person in her own way in her own time and the blazes with the controllers for their selfish wants.

Posted by: saratoga | May 2, 2005 3:58 PM | Report abuse

If this wasn't a wakeup call to 'The Groom Who Narrowly Averted Doom', I don't know what is.

I wonder if he still thinks that this is the woman he wants to raise children with?


Posted by: bc | May 2, 2005 4:08 PM | Report abuse

What I wonder is this: why would a runner take a bus? She should have just jogged over to Florida and hung out with all the snow birds.

As for charging the parents, they've probably lost tons of deposit money. Fair is fair.

Posted by: mary | May 2, 2005 4:18 PM | Report abuse

PLENTY of blame to go 'round in this matter. Begin with the woman herself ... not a virginal, dewy girl in late teens, or barely past 20, but a 32 year old, and a nurse to boot who'd been cohabiting with her man for considerable time. She's considerable older than the majority of men and woman serving us in Iraq, among many other dangerous places. Her fiance (yes, one "e") came across as a bit of a religious zealot in several TV interviews I caught before the case was solved. In one he stated with a serene look that Jennifer was either already with the angels and Jesus ... or would be found safe. He came close to implying the first alternative was the grander of the two! The parents and other relatives clearly were overly immersed in planning this outsize wedding, likely numb to the true wishes of the bride-to-be. These people were so concerned with every petty detail of the big event, they were tone deaf to Jennifer. -- As said, blame to go around ... and shame to go around.

Posted by: Clem | May 2, 2005 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Read what Dan Herrera has to say about false accusations:

Further, after Susan Smith and Charles Stuart, shouldn't we be more concerned about what Cary Clack talks about--the Phantom criminal?

In short, I find it interesting that she chose to accuse a couple whose description matches many--even me and my fiance. At least we don't drive a blue van, but I'd like to see her explain this falsehood.

Not only did her actions result in her fiance being cast as a potential murder suspect, she opted to create fictatious 'bad guys' without regard to the possible consequences visited upon the innocent a la "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Posted by: satx | May 2, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I still don't understand this anger towards her. SHE wasn't the one who launched the insane media circus hunt for her. She just...left. Yes she should have left a note, or had her "accomplice" let folks know that she was okay after she had gone. But sheesh, after realizing how this whole thing had spun out of control, I can almost understand the panic and attempt to blame someone else.

There are so many people who disappear everyday--and so many much more likely to be the victims of foul play. Why did THIS woman become the center of a media tornado and national search? I'd guess #1-money (clearly her family had it), and #2-the bride aspect. Is that her fault?

Charge her for any expenses incurred after the false report. Other than that, tough, get over it. She's an adult with every right to flee to Vegas if she wishes.

Posted by: still wondering | May 2, 2005 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Stories like this in the news make me acutely aware there are people in this world whose lives are more miserable than mine.

Posted by: WASP | May 2, 2005 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Poor little rich girl without cash or a credit card chose to call 911 with a lie so someone would come pick her up rather than get on the phone with her bank or Western Union to wire her money. If law enforcement hadn't been so astute, she MIGHT have gotten a free ride back home, too. And we aren't sure she didn't, as Delta ain't talking (latest on

My guess is that this kind of thing is a style of stress management with her, only this time, the media was watching. I am about to decide that is a GOOD thing.

Posted by: just me | May 2, 2005 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Who cares? She came home alive which is what everyone SAID they wanted. Then when she shows up we pounce on her like lions. People are REALLY abducted daily and it barely makes a blip on the news radar, I don't particularly care to publicly flog a woman who obviously needs help and gave us the outcome we wanted. Would we really be happier if she HAD been kidnapped, raped and/or killed?

Posted by: lillymacus | May 2, 2005 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the poster named "peter" is a bot, or else a really bored person using a babble generator to create a posting. But I'd go for a bot.

Posted by: PeterK | May 2, 2005 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually, a reasonable alternative would have been if she'd left out the part about a kidnapping.

It's the lie that creates the outrage.

Posted by: just me | May 2, 2005 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Peterk, I envy the size of your name.

De-capitalize or Immagisculiser? Emasculate, then.

You guessed it. I am bored, but it is also after 21:20 GMT.

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 5:55 PM | Report abuse

OK, people need to stop blaming the media on this one. Of course they focused on the RAB, it's a FANTASTIC TABLOID TV STORY! Everybody knows of a similar tale (I went to this huge wedding one time, my cousin's cousin left her fiancée at the altar etc., etc.) so there is a human interest factor. Plus, up to the minute missing person cases are what 24 hour television news was born to do (particularly on a slow news Fri/Sat)what with all the family interviews, press conferences, etc. Add to that the morbid record of missing white female joggers these days: Chandra, Lacy, Lori Hacking...OF COURSE IT IS GOING TO BE ALL OVER THE NEWS!!! This is the way it is and forever will be. If you don't like it, don't watch cable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2005 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I think we should all refrain from passing judgement so quickly. There are so many reasonable scenarios I can imagine that could have made this woman snap. We will probably never know what led up to her decision to do this. Let's place our outrage where it really belongs--on the disaster that is our current government.

Posted by: jb | May 2, 2005 6:17 PM | Report abuse

The whole matter didn't deserve a second thought, but alas! I managed seven of them:
First thought: "that doofus-bird fiance did it!"....
Second thought: "naw, that gal's got those Crazy Eyes--like Audrey Seiler...."
Third thought: "abduction story is a d*(& lie!"
Fourth thought: "Hmmm. That's a surprise...." (that the alleged abductors weren't the usual (black) suspects in ski masks--prompting raids on black households a la Susan Smith and that freak who killed his wife and jumped in the Charles River)

Fifth thought: "Runaway Fiancee-gal should get an Oscar for Tearful Performance of the Century..."
#6: ...more a sensation, really--the peculiar edification of seeing well-heeled-wallowers-in-excess make abject fools of themselves. Rotten of me, I know....
#7.... (nothing really; after the above my mind is as empty as the combined vapidity of the RAFiancee and her vacuous fiance...)

I feel sorry for the law enforcement folks who combed Duluth looking for the dum gal. I think she should be sentenced to 100,000 hours of community service answering calls on a hotline for teenaged runaways or a doing intake at a shelter for battered women....these might be more effective at healing what troubles her than the counseling she appears likely to get in this setting of friends and family who love her dearly in ways she obviously can't truly feel....

Posted by: Carolina | May 2, 2005 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The one person I feel sorriest for is her fiance. Every single person in my office and my husband and family all thought he killed that woman. The whole country probably owes him a silent apology for what they were thinking about him. After Mark Hawking and Scott Peterson got so much publicity, we all jumped the gun. And the Wilbanks woman should have known that her poor fiance would catch all the blame for her disappearance. Her parents were probably worried sick and he could have been beaten up or killed himself by a vigilante group or individual. Also, what about any passing Hispanic males in their 40s driving around in blue cargo vans? Some minuteman might have tortured someone, just SURE that he got the Latino kidnapper of Jennifer Wilbanks. This woman is nuts, to be sure, and she definitely owes the town and their emergency services an apology and some reparations are in order. I don't think jail time is appropriate, as she may have a mental issue going on here, beyond just pathological selfishness. I like the community service idea, maybe some hard labor like cleaning poor folks houses or the road crew thing or babysitting for welfare moms' kids. I also would like to say that my husband and I went to the Justice of the Peace in Houston, TX in 1985, and recently celebrated 20 happy years together with our three kids. The wedding cost $32.50 with a small party afterwards that was about $300.00. We always cared more about the marriage than about the wedding.

Posted by: Dianne | May 2, 2005 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Here's the jilted groom from Fox's Hannity and Colmes:
Mason also offered a broad message of forgiveness. "Ain't we all messed up? Ain't we all made mistakes?" he asked.

She ran away from his redneckspeak, I bet!

Posted by: just me | May 2, 2005 10:17 PM | Report abuse

This narcissistic twit probably can't be punished.

That's why we want the press to do it for us. Shadow her every move from now on. Dig deep into her past. (Deeper!) Keep crews in Duluth until the 2008 election.

I want to hear from high school acquaintances and old, disgruntked boy friends. Let's have stories from nursing school days.

Has she ever stood up a guy on a date before ? Missed a dental appointment? Bounced a check? WE WANT TO KNOW!

Another planned ceremony? Call in the helicopters. Shadow her every move. Let her try to run away from that.

Posted by: YardleyBoy | May 2, 2005 10:59 PM | Report abuse


Do bots spell things out? Or do Prez Phizzes stare ye down? Suture yourself.

Pynch awake on unschooled guile. First it giveth then it...

Posted by: peter | May 2, 2005 11:45 PM | Report abuse

...Enough, already!

Where were we?

Oh, yes. I think Fiancee-gal was running from a lot of things, redneckspeak least of all. The Goober-fiance's self-deluding religiosity might be a major culprit. It made me cringe to hear he'd given the ring back upon reuniting with his shorn, bus-borne love. Felt sort of nice-nasty-abusive, a distinctively southern thing I well...I...I just can't explain...
One thing I DO know is that the fiance needs to wade in the waters of Deep Therapy as urgently as his would-have-been bride. Kinda sad, really.

Posted by: Carolina | May 3, 2005 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Way way underneath all of the obvious issues these people have, there lies the root of all evil - Madison Avenue and Wall Street.
Breed the Greed.

P.S. -

Joel is the funniest - even before he was a world famous blogger.

Posted by: Robin | May 3, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

In todays paper the RAB said she didn't know people would be looking for her. THEN WHY THE HECK DID SHE CUT HER HAIR TO HIDE WHO SHE WAS AND IN HOPES THAT NO ONE WOULD RECOGNIZE HER? Who goes jogging with enough cash (and none of her other valuables including her engagement rings) that they can buy another ticket from Las Vegas to New Mexico. I don't know anyone who leaves all their valuables at home except for the cash!! Spontaneous decision? Doubtful! Why would the boyfriend take her back and be able to trust her ever again. His interview sure did nothing for my opinion of him as a redneck who hides behind his rose colored religious glasses. I would run away from this man too.

Posted by: Chuck | May 3, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

That 'air force flyover' line is getting a good workout this week by you, Joel.

Posted by: Timmy Little | May 3, 2005 2:02 PM | Report abuse

When you think about the whole episode a couple of days after it's played itself out, what strikes one is that it is a metaphor of much of what is lamentable about contemporary American society ... and more specifically, that amalgam of pomposity, pretentiousness, religiosity, and humorlessness of upper-middle-class American society.

Posted by: Clembo | May 3, 2005 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Clembo is right. The whole story does say a lot about what is wrong with America. But it also is about the South, with its sexual malaise, addiction to religion and alcohol, hypocrisy and respectability, and the real nature of marriage.

Posted by: norman | May 4, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

As I said, Clembo

Madison Avenue and Wall Street.

Posted by: Robin | May 4, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The woman may have been telling people all along that she wanted out, but no one listened. "Oh, all brides are nervous. You'll be fine after you're married. Besides, the invitations have been ordered and the bridesmaids already bought their dresses. Now what music should we do for the processional? Can we get the choir?"

Granted, she doesn't sound like the brightest bulb on the string, but if the women in her life were obsessed with the wedding and the groom obsessed with himself, she might have felt that the only way out was to run.

I would have run from a wedding like that too.

Posted by: Furball | May 4, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

norman, why so down on the South, knucklehead? Really, "sexual malaise," this is new to me. I got two words to refute that jewel: Bill Clinton.

"Sexual mayonnaise" That's more like it. (Thank you Mr. Brautigan).

The media loused it all up again with the over-hyped Miss Muffett story. Many many posts ago, someone remarked about her false accusations - that she was abducted by a hispanic man and white woman in a blue van. It reminded me of the South Park episode when the whole town including Gary Condit and OJ Simpson are searching for a Puerto Rican suspected of kidnapping Butters, who turns up in the end unharmed.

For the patent racism infused into her wee pea brain and her crying Wolf, Miss Muffett should be put in the stocks and pelted with fugazi wedding rings. How many people were pulled over and prodded, cited, or arrested thanks to high-profile racial profiling?

Posted by: peter | May 4, 2005 1:39 PM | Report abuse

....fortunately, while the prodding and citing and arrests MIGHT have occurred as a result of Wilbanks' dramatic 911 performance, fortunately the dum gal revealed the hoax before the troops could hit the streets and start snatching people out of blue vans...

The media seemed to have no choice--once it reported Wilbanks missing and she turned up--but to report what was revealed in her interview with law enforcement officials.

Sigh. It's remarkable really, the way we've responded to being duped. Joel got it wrong thinking it's tabloid fodder that makes our stomachs growl. It's the idea that someone very like us in whose whereabout and well-being we invested (fleeting) time and attention from the more urgent sundries of our lives and the serious business of the world--someone we didn't expect to abuse our compassionate instincts played us like we were a big bunch of goobers.

Posted by: Carolina | May 4, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Peter: down here in the Old Confederacy the most important thing is facade. People smile when they really want to frown. They tell nice lies rather than painful truths. They pretend to believe all the Christian nonsense about salvation and redemption while they actually believe only in the welfare of the family. Growing up here means you play along; you never say what you think; you never think what you say. All is for public consumption. I can imagine that Jennifer Wilbanks never had a frank conversation with anyone -- not parents, not siblings, not fiance -- the only way is to see a therapist I guess. Don't try to talk to clergy, those overfed, underbrained poor excuses for moral leaders. They are the blind leading the blind and the chief support of the hypocrisy which reigns supreme here.

Posted by: norman | May 4, 2005 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Flots Masriach | September 15, 2006 7:38 AM | Report abuse

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