Local Officials React To Runaway Bride Case - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/03/05 - Lufkin

Local Officials React To Runaway Bride Case

by Stuart Burson

The now infamous "Runaway Bride" was to have been on her honeymoon now. Instead, she's at her parents' house and could soon be facing criminal charges. Those criminal charges could come depending on whether her claims to authorities that she was kidnapped prior to her wedding were pre-meditated, or if they were done out of last-minute stress or fear.

Jennifer Wilbanks could face some serious trouble if prosecutors decide to press charges against her for disappearing and telling authorities she was abducted. Even if no charges are filed, could she still be prosecuted for just wasting everyone's time?

"I would think they probably would explore that because of the response that came from it. But for the most part, it's not illegal to just walk off," says Lt. Greg Denman with the Lufkin Police Department.

Angelina County Sheriff Kent Henson says in many cases, it's more than just local police involved in a search for a missing person, making those searches expensive.

"You're looking at the DPS, you're looking at aircraft, you're looking at land search. You're going to have the Texas Forest Service involved. You're going to have your volunteers, which is your neighborhood people helping out, your volunteer fire departments, a lot of times your mounted patrols will come out. You'll have people on four-wheelers helping. There's a lot of work involved in it. You could run up several hundred thousand dollars real quick."

So, what could Jennifer Wilbanks have done to avoid this big mess?

"There's a serious avoidance of responsibility here. Probably the most appropriate thing to do would be if you were really wanting to cancel a wedding at the last minute would be to talk with the person you're marrying, and take responsibility and say the two of you agreed to do this together so nobody's embarrassed by it, nobody's shammed by it," says Professional Counselor Mark Sutton.

Despite recent events, it's said that Wilbank's fiance still wants to marry her.

Powered by Frankly