The runaway bride is back. We’re all glad she wasn’t really kidnapped. We’re all glad she’s safe and unharmed. Now what?
What we know is that she left nearly all her earthly possessions, including her engagement ring, at home when she went jogging, and never came back. She caught a bus, and headed west to Albuquerque. Somehow, she got to the bus station, and somewhere she got the money to buy a ticket. There’s the suggestion she bought the bus ticket a week earlier in another town. True? We don’t yet know. But either she bought the ticket early, in which case this was clearly a premeditated act, or she had enough money when she went jogging to buy the ticket. If that’s true, why did she leave everything else at home? It’s pretty clear that this was not a spur of the moment decision.
We also know that she called 911 and told authorities that she had been kidnapped. That was a lie. What was the purpose of this lie? This is no kid. If it was a 20-year-old girl, you might be able to excuse all of this as youthful stupidity. But Jennifer Wilbanks is 32; she’s no immature little girl. And if she did indeed get cold feet, was it really necessary to put her fiancé, her family, and her friends, through days of hell wondering if she was alive or hurt? Efforts to locate Ms. Wilbanks must have cost thousands of dollars, and diverted some law enforcement resources away from real cases to look for this woman.
So, some questions arise:
- Will sympathy take over, and she will be excused for her crimes and indiscretions? “The poor little thing. She needs our understanding,” you can hear the apologists saying.
- Will she be charged with a misdemeanor? This is the very least she should get. A stiff fine to pay for the money she caused officials and family to spend looking for her.
- Will she be charged with a felony? This might be more appropriate. A fine, some jail time or probation might get the point across to others who might try the same thing.
- Will her fiancé still want a relationship with her? I can’t imagine a more vicious slap in the face before the wedding than what was done to him. But love causes people to do strange things.