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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Jennifer Wilbanks - The Runaway Bride  (Read 11555 times)
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xx Wilbanks to speak publically about disappearing ac
« Reply #30 on: Jun 14th, 2005, 09:13am »

ATLANTA - Jennifer Wilbanks, the Gainesville native who has been in the national spotlight for two months now since she skipped out of her wedding, is finally talking publicly about what happened.

'The Today Show' host Katie Couric is the first to get a one-on-one interview with Wilbanks and her fiancee John Mason.

Couric flew into Atlanta over the weekend and the three talked for hours. Snippets of the interview will be shown on 'The Today Show' but most will be shown on the Katie Couric special set to air June 21.

Couric said that for those who have waiting for an explanation to why Wilbanks left just days before their wedding, they will get one.
http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/hall/newfullstory.asp?ID=93357
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xx Wilbanks, publisher say 'I do'
« Reply #31 on: Jun 17th, 2005, 05:26am »

"Runaway bride" Jennifer Wilbanks may have said little when she appeared in a Gwinnett County courtroom and pleaded no contest to committing a crime, but now she's decided she's got a story to tell. Or one to sell.

ReganMedia, a New York-based multimedia company, confirmed Wednesday that it had "acquired all media rights to the life stories" of the 32-year-old Duluth woman and her fiancé, John Mason. The company's news release did not disclose whether any money changed hands in the process.

But ReganMedia, led by President Judith Regan, did confirm that it was pitching a movie concept to networks.

"I am looking forward to developing the scripted project with Wilbanks and Mason," Regan said in a statement. "Theirs is an unexpected and compelling story of love and

forgiveness that has certainly taught me a thing or two."

Mason declined to comment on the media deal when he was reached this week.

The development upset and annoyed both public officials, who spent money trying to find her, and ordinary people in Gwinnett.

"It's disturbing to me on a personal basis that she's willing to profit from this, but there's nothing I can do about it legally," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, who pursued the charges against her. "There was no condition of probation that could have prevented it."

'A shame' to reap profit

Duluth Mayor Shirley Fanning Lasseter, whose city shelled out nearly $43,000 to search for her, was tight-lipped, but her sentiment seemed clear.

"You want something printable?" she asked a reporter. "I think it's a shame that anybody could profit from this."

Wilbanks repaid Duluth $13,249 of what it cost to search for her. And she's pledged to pay the Gwinnett Sheriff's Department $2,550 for overtime.

Duluth's Wilbanks took a bus out west instead of getting married in April. Her absence triggered a nationwide search and news coverage. She resurfaced in Albuquerque, N.M., and first said she was kidnapped, but then revealed the truth: She just left.

Earlier this month, Wilbanks pleaded no contest to a felony count of making a false statement to police and received probation and community service.

Though NBC's news division has scored the first interview with Wilbanks, which is scheduled to air Tuesday as a "Dateline NBC" special with Katie Couric, the entertainment division did not bite on a possible TV movie.

"I believe that we were pitched, and passed," said Rebecca Marks, executive vice president for NBC television publicity.

"Today" show host Couric interviewed Wilbanks in Georgia on Sunday and the network has been airing promos for the interview at least since Monday.

Publisher for the stars

NBC news spokeswoman Allison Gollust made it clear that the network did not pay for the interview. "This interview was booked the way all our big interviews are booked: hard work and persistence," she said.

Regan, described last week in Newsweek magazine as a lightning rod in book publishing circles, is expanding into TV and film. As the book publisher for various celebrities, Regan has set up exclusive first interviews for baseball player Jose Canseco with CBS's "60 Minutes," porn star Jenna Jameson with VH1 and Scott Peterson ex-mistress Amber Frey with NBC's "Dateline."

In a widely circulated memo, ReganMedia appears to pitch a TV movie rights deal for $500,000 — but it's unclear from the memo's wording whom the pitch was to, or who would benefit. Such a payment, it said, was contingent upon "the completion of the first interview with both Jennifer Wilbanks and fiancé, John Mason."

$500,000 memo

Paul Crichton, a ReganMedia spokesman, said he has seen the memo from multiple sources but made it clear that "a deal memo is not an agreement or contract." He would not reveal how much money Wilbanks and Mason received and said Regan herself did not leak the memo.

Doug Grad, a senior editor at ReganMedia, acknowledged that he wrote the memo, but would say only, "It's not signed," and wouldn't comment further.

But Diane Berdis had plenty to say.

Wilbanks "should send me six grand for my trouble," said Berdis, owner of Share the Spirit Quilting & Yarn, a quilt store facing Duluth's Town Green. "It cost me five days, and I am not a happy camper."

Berdis said she lost five days of business as the search for Wilbanks intensified.

The town filled with cops and reporters and searchers, making parking nearly impossible, Berdis said. Would-be quilters stayed away from the shop until April 30, when the would-be bride surfaced in Albuquerque, N.M., with a concocted tale that she'd been abducted by a Hispanic man and a white woman.

Customers returned to the shop, Berdis said, but the damage was done.

Staff writers Tasgola Karla Bruner, Mark Davis, John Ghirardini, Steve Murray and Jill Vejnoska contributed to this article.
http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/stories/0605/16wilbanks.html
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xx Runaway bride tells NBC why she split
« Reply #32 on: Jun 20th, 2005, 11:29am »

Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks claims the hoax she hatched to escape her wedding was a "life-or-death" decision, but it also turned out to be "the best mistake I ever made."

Breaking her silence on her not-ready-for-nuptials ordeal, the Georgia brunette told NBC News' Katie Couric she panicked as her big day loomed.

"That night, in that moment, it really became a life-or-death decision for me ... So I got on my bus," said Wilbanks, 32.

In the excerpts of the interview, Wilbanks did not elaborate on her "life or death" comment.

But Wilbanks told FBI agents that the pressures of planning a wedding for 600 guests and 28 bridesmaids and groomsmen "made her feel overwhelmed."

"Were there other alternatives? Sure there were. But that's all I knew at that moment," said Wilbanks, who has sold the rights to her story for $500,000 to New York-based ReganMedia.

An NBC News spokeswoman said the network was not involved in Wilbanks' ReganMedia deal, and insisted it did not pay for the exclusive interview.

Wilbanks bolted April 27 on a Greyhound bus, four days before she was to marry John Mason in Duluth, Ga. Her disappearance prompted a nationwide search, and even had police suspecting Mason of foul play.

She resurfaced in New Mexico on April 29, calling 911 from an Albuquerque 7-11 store with a tearful account of being kidnapped by a gun-wielding Hispanic man and his white female companion. She even described her abductors' van.

"I was very ashamed. And felt so guilty for the people that I have hurt. And how, you know, how this has affected many people's lives," she said. "But at the same time, it's the best mistake I ever made. It allowed me to realize that I desperately needed help. And it humbled me enough to ask for that help."

Upon returning home, Wilbanks entered an inpatient treatment program to address physical and mental issues, her family said.

Pressed on how she came up with such a detailed tall tale when she called 911, Wilbanks said, "Maybe I watched too many cops-and-robbers movies."

"It is scary that it came so easy for me," she said of the impromptu lies that got her charged with making a false statement and making a false police report.
http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050620/THINGS0206/506200316/1055/news

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xx FBI: Bride 'just wanted to disappear'
« Reply #33 on: Jun 22nd, 2005, 08:14am »

LAWRENCEVILLE, Georgia (AP) — Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks wanted to vanish because she feared she could not be the perfect wife. She picked Austin, Texas, as her original destination after seeing actor Matthew McConaughey talk about his hometown on TV.
And she funded her odyssey by cashing a cell phone rebate check and emptying an old bank account.

Those were some of the details that emerged Tuesday from investigation reports by the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that detailed Wilbanks' flight. The reports portrayed the 32-year-old nurse as a naive woman whose mother did her banking for her.

Wilbanks also discussed her ordeal in an NBC interview Tuesday night, saying she was suicidal when she fled.

"I had a bottle of pills or I had the bus ticket," she said.

Wilbanks' disappearance four days before her scheduled 600-guest wedding gained national attention. Hundreds of officers and volunteers including members of the wedding party searched for her for three days before she called her fiance from Albuquerque, New Mexico, early in the morning of her planned wedding day, claiming to have been abducted and sexually assaulted. She soon recanted her story, saying she fled because of personal issues.

Mother handled bride's bank accounts

Wilbanks told investigators that she didn't know about the extent of the search because she didn't see any television or listen to any radio while on the run. The one time she glanced at a newspaper, she "did not see her picture on the front," FBI agents wrote after interviewing Wilbanks on May 4, days after she returned from her cross-country bus trip.

"Wilbanks stated that she felt very humbled that so many people had been searching for her, but she did not feel like she had done anything wrong and she just wanted to disappear," the report said.

Agents said in the report that Wilbanks "was scared to marry (fiance) John Mason because she is afraid of an imperfect world. Wilbanks stated that she could not be the wife that her fiance John Mason needed. Wilbanks wanted to disappear without a trace."

The report from Georgia investigators said she broke off an earlier engagement to another man, and even though she had been in a relationship with Mason since August 2004 she kept "I love you" text messages on her cell phone from another man she dated in 2003.

Wilbanks pleaded no contest earlier this month to telling police her phony story and was sentenced to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service. She also was ordered to continue mental health treatment and pay the sheriff's office $2,550. The city of Duluth spent nearly $43,000 to search for her; Wilbanks has repaid $13,249.

Wilbanks originally wanted to flee to Austin after seeing McConaughey on TV, the FBI report said. After doing research on the Internet, she "thought it looked like a nice place to visit because of Austin's ranches and national parks," the report said.

A week before she disappeared, she purchased a ticket for a Greyhound bus that left April 26 from a station near the Atlanta airport.

Because her mother did her banking for her, Wilbanks scraped together a little more than $240 for her journey in a various ways, the report said. She cashed in a $100 rebate check for her cell phone. She received less than $100 after closing an old account at a credit union.

The night she disappeared, she withdrew $40 with her ATM card. She dared not use her card anymore because "her mother would be able to track her down," she told the FBI.

Called fiance when she ran out of cash

Then, after a bath and dinner, she left home for a jog, telling Mason that she would "run until she was tired." She instead ran a few blocks away to the city library, where a taxi took her to the airport. She then boarded the bus.

"Wilbanks realized during her travel on Greyhound that the Greyhound bus traveled to really rough areas for their bus stations," the FBI agents wrote.

After eating a meal during a stop in Dallas, she felt safer to be on the bus, the report said. She had no lodging arrangements in Austin and "was scared it may stop in a bad area," the report said, so she spent $107 of her money to continue on to Las Vegas.

She tried to get a room at three different hotels near the bus station in Las Vegas but they were all too expensive.

She told investigators that she then remembered a street full of hotels in Albuquerque, a city the bus had passed through on the way to Las Vegas. With only about $80 left, she bought a $76 ticket to Albuquerque.

Wilbanks arrived the next day. She asked a taxi driver to take her to a hotel where she had a travel coupon advertising rooms for $19.99. However, she only had enough money to pay for a taxi ride for part of the way. Out of money, she finally called her fiance collect.

http://www.connpost.com/ci_2816937

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xx Bride pays debt
« Reply #34 on: Aug 10th, 2005, 5:17pm »

Instead of cutting out of town, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks is cutting lawns.
Wearing an orange community service vest and a baseball cap with the slogan "Life is good," Wilbanks did part of her court-ordered community service Tuesday for lying to police after she ran off days before her wedding.

"I'm doing well. ... I'm getting there," a sweating Wilbanks told a throng of reporters and photographers after her mower died out in the tall, wet grass. "I need to get back to work. I don't want to get into trouble."

But her mower kept sputtering out, prompting her to repeatedly yank on the pull cord to get it started again. After the eighth time, she let out a huge sigh.

In all, Wilbanks was ordered to do 120 hours of service, and she has already completed 24 by scrubbing toilets in probation offices, picking up trash and washing public vehicles.

"She's a hard worker," said 17-year-old Michael Powell, who has cleaned bathrooms and offices with Wilbanks while working off his own sentence of 80 hours of community service for an offense he declined to disclose. "She didn't take advantage of anything. She did more work than most people."

When he first met Wilbanks, Powell was one of the few who had no idea who she was.

"I said, 'Whoa, what's a girl like you having to do 120 hours of community service?' She said, 'I told a lie."

"I said, 'It must have been a pretty big lie,' and she laughed, saying 'Haven't you heard of the runaway bride?"'

Wilbanks, 32, disappeared four days before her scheduled wedding in April with 600 invited guests. Hundreds of police officers and volunteers including members of the wedding party searched for her for three days.

She called her fiance, John Mason, from Albuquerque, N.M., early in the morning of her planned wedding day, claiming to have been abducted and sexually assaulted. She soon recanted her story, saying she fled because of personal issues.

Wilbanks pleaded no contest in June to telling police her phony story. She also was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $2,550 in restitution to the sheriff's office that helped with the search.

The nearby city of Duluth, where Wilbanks had lived with her fiance, spent nearly $43,000 to search for her; Wilbanks has repaid $13,249.

Wilbanks has been undergoing mental health treatment. In an interview with Katie Couric shown on NBC in June, Mason said maybe the couple will get married "one day." "But we don't know the answer to that question yet," he added.
http://www2.dailynews.com/news/ci_2926992
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xx Runaway Bride Bobblehead Dolls Disappear Quickly
« Reply #35 on: Mar 6th, 2006, 09:54am »

DULUTH, GA (AP) -- Fans snapped up Runaway Bride bobblehead dolls at the Gladiators game at the Gwinnett Arena. The dolls given to the first one-thousand fans through the door of the center in Duluth were gone in about ten minutes.

Doug Angis is the team's ticket sales director. He says if it wasn't the quickest promotional giveaway "it's pretty close to it."

Angis says the five-inch dollar -- complete with tiara, veil, sweatshirt and sneakers -- caused a spike in ticket sales. The doll holds a ticket stamped "ABQ" for Albuquerque, New Mexico, where runway bride Jennifer Wilbanks ended up after leaving Georgia before her wedding date.

Attendance at yesterday's hockey game -- was 43-hundred, 89 -- about average for a Sunday game. The team advised that any similarity to an actual person -- such as Duluth resident Jennifer Wilbanks "purely coincidental."

Just before the game started, Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter -- who was critical of Wilbanks' decision to sell her story -- walked onto the ice for the honorary first puck flanked by security. She had a striped blanket over her head -- similar to the one Wilbanks covered herself in when she was rushed through the Albuquerque airport last April
http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/georgia/news-article.aspx?storyid=53192
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xx 'Runaway Bride' Sues Her Former Fiance
« Reply #36 on: Oct 10th, 2006, 3:22pm »

By JOHN C. CLARK

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- The "runaway bride," who took off days before her lavish wedding in 2005, is suing her former fiance for $500,000, claiming he defrauded her out of her share of their assets.

Jennifer Wilbanks is seeking $250,000 as her share of a home she says John C. Mason purchased through the partnership with proceeds from $500,000 received for selling their story to Regan Media in New York.

She also wants $250,000 in punitive damages for alleged abuse of the power of attorney she granted for Mason to handle their financial affairs.

In addition, letters included as exhibits in the lawsuit show that the former couple has been in dispute over personal property Wilbanks claims Mason has kept. The items include a ladder that belonged to her father, a gold-colored sofa, a new vacuum cleaner and wedding shower gifts. Mason's attorney wrote to Wilbanks' attorney in July that his client had agreed to deliver those items. The court filings do not show whether the items were returned.



Wilbanks and Mason broke up for good in May, about a year after her excursion to Las Vegas and New Mexico made international headlines while hundreds of friends and family members searched for her back home in suburban Atlanta.

Mason has until Oct. 18 to respond to the lawsuit, filed last month in Gwinnett County's Superior Court. The lawsuit, Wilbanks vs. JCM Consulting and Mason, was filed Sept. 13, according to court records.

Wilbanks' attorney, Michael Wetzel, and Mason's father, Claude, declined comment Tuesday morning. John Mason's attorney, James C. Watkins, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The lawsuit says the $500,000 was put into an account of JCM Consulting, based in Gwinnett County. After Wilbanks was "hospitalized and under medication," Mason bought a home in Dacula in his name with the money, the lawsuit alleges.


The lawsuit claims that Wilbanks asked JCM Consulting during the summer for various documents, but the firm didn't give her records of bank accounts. Through the lawsuit, she wants to inspect and copy those records.

Wilbanks also claims that Mason used the company to defraud her.

Wilbanks disappeared four days before her planned April 30, 2005, wedding. Hundreds of police and volunteers searched for her for three days before she called Mason from Albuquerque, N.M., claiming to have been abducted and sexually assaulted.

She later recanted, saying she fled because of unspecified personal issues, and pleaded no contest to telling police a phony story.

She was sentenced to two years' probation and performed community service that included mowing the lawns of public buildings.

News of the lawsuit was first reported Monday night by WAGA-TV.

« Last Edit: Oct 10th, 2006, 3:24pm by FindCarrie » User IP Logged

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