Saturday, April 30, 2005

Missing Bride Found

…in Albuquerque.

A 32-year-old woman who vanished just days before her wedding was found alive early Saturday in New Mexico after calling her fiance from a pay phone and saying she had been kidnapped, authorities said.

Jennifer Wilbanks was safe and in police custody more than 1,420 miles from her home in Duluth, Ga., said Kathy Mabry of the Albuquerque Police Department.

The bride-to-be had been missing since Tuesday, when her fiance reported she went for her nightly run and didn’t come home, according to Duluth police.

Wilbanks called her fiance, John Mason, early Saturday and said she had been kidnapped, her stepmother said. As she spoke to Mason, Duluth police traced the phone call to Albuquerque, the stepmother said. She said the family would fly to Albuquerque later Saturday.

Relatives Friday had asked the public to pray for Wilbanks, who hadn’t been seen since she went on an evening jog. She was reported missing Tuesday night by her fiance, John Mason.

The two were due to be married this weekend in a ceremony with 600 guests and featuring 14 bridesmaids.

Turns out she got cold feet and hopped a bus to Vegas. Hey, when you have a wedding with 14 bridesmaids and 600 guests, it’s understandable — have you seen the dresses?

What I love is watching CNN breathlessly breaking in with BREAKING NEWS announcing her recovery and all the hype about kidnapping by mysterious people in a blue van and all the drama that that entails — interviews with tearful family members, questioning the fiance, making plans to search the woods — and then finding out that she took one look at all the hype around her wedding — she had eight wedding showers, for Dog’s sake — and bailed. Now the anchors on CNN are really pissed off; they were all ready to go to special logos and music on this story, floating rumors about a “Hispanic man” and clumps of hair, and now they find out that it all boils down to “Never mind…” CNN is now painting her as a flighty twit on a bender, and as soon as they can gracefully extricate themselves, they’ll be going back to “People In the News.”

This points out the trouble with 24/7 cable news coverage…not every missing person is the next Laci Peterson, and treating them like they are actually trivializes the real missing persons. I suppose they can be forgiven for the hype — no one really knew what happened with this woman until she called 9-1-1 from the 7-11 — but maybe next time they’ll tone it down a little.

Yeah, right.