DOCUMENT: Crime

All Eyes On Jennifer Wilbanks

Georgia city deluged with advice on handling runaway bride

View Document

All Eyes On Jennifer Wilbanks

MAY 9--What to do with the so-called Runaway Bride? Well, the city fathers and police from Duluth, Georgia--home to troubled Jennifer Wilbanks--have been deluged with suggestions from the public about how to punish the wide-eyed woman who fled town days before her 600-guest nuptials. Pursuant to an open records request filed by TSG, Duluth officials provided us with in excess of 1000 letters sent to them regarding the Wilbanks matter (below you'll find what we consider the cream of the crop). By our count, the letters ran about 60-40 in favor of charging Wilbanks with a crime or, at the very least, socking her with a bill for the city's search expenses. The minority of correspondents urged forgiveness and compassion from Duluth Mayor Shirley Fanning-Lasseter and Chief of Police Randall Belcher. About a dozen e-mails wondered whether Wilbanks's fleeing from fiancée John Mason may have been triggered by an untreated medical problem. Along with letters sent after Wilbanks surfaced in Albuquerque on April 29, TSG was provided with some amusing missives received while her whereabouts were unknown. Included in these helpful tips was a sketch of Wilbanks's abductors drawn by a 79-year-old woman, a heads-up from a woman who was 'almost positive' that she had recently seen Mason's photo posted on a 'dating/match making site,' and a note from someone suspicious of 'an Oriental looking gentleman' seen in the background of a televised news conference. (25 pages)