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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Runaway bride apologises for hoax
Jennifer Wilbanks at Albuquerque airport
Wilbanks covered her face as police brought her home
A US woman who pretended she had been kidnapped days before her wedding has apologised for the troubles she caused.

Jennifer Wilbanks vanished in late April, shortly before she was to be married in a lavish ceremony.

She reappeared in Albuquerque, New Mexico, three days later - thousands of kilometres from her Georgia home.

Her father's pastor read out a statement on her behalf on Thursday, following widespread outrage at the effort that went into finding her.

"I was simply running away from myself and from certain fears controlling my life," her statement said.

It denied that her running away was linked to her forthcoming wedding.

If we learn that this was a premeditated act, that would push me closer to pressing charges
Danny Porter,
District Attorney
"Those who know me know how excited I've been... about the spectacular wedding we planned, and how I could not wait to be Mrs John Mason.

"I am truly sorry for the troubles I caused," the statement said.

It added that she had voluntarily begun professional treatment.

Local anger

Some residents of her home town of Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta, had said she owed an apology to those who tried to find her.

Volunteers had crawled through sewers and tracked through woods in an attempt to find Ms Wilbanks. Posters had been put up and some yellow ribbons tied to posts.

Local district attorney Danny Porter said it was too early to talk of charging Ms Wilbanks, but said: "If we learn that this was a premeditated act, that would push me closer to pressing charges."

Ms Wilbanks had been last seen by her husband-to-be, John Mason, on 26 April, as she left home to go jogging in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta.

More than 100 police officers and hundreds of volunteers - including prospective wedding guests - joined the search for her.

But Ms Wilbanks had taken a bus to Las Vegas and then on to New Mexico.

She phoned a police emergency line and her fiance saying she had been kidnapped and later released.

When police picked her up she admitted the hoax.

Apology call to US runaway bride
01 May 05 |  Americas

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