A Georgia woman who vanished just days before her wedding, triggering a nationwide search, was found on Saturday more than 1,400 miles away in New Mexico after falsely claiming she had been abducted, police and friends of her family said.
Jennifer Wilbanks, a 32-year-old medical assistant, called her family early Saturday morning, saying she had been kidnapped while jogging on Tuesday night and taken to New Mexico, where she was released.
She soon recanted her story, telling police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that she had fled Georgia by bus because she was scared about her upcoming nuptials, according to Randall Belcher, the police chief in Duluth.
Wilbanks was supposed to marry fiance John Mason on Saturday in front of more than 500 guests.
"Jennifer was a runaway bride," Alan Jones, a youth pastor and friend of the couple, said in a televised news conference in Duluth. "Jennifer is alive and well, and we're all thankful for that."
"Jennifer needs help," said Jones, who added that Mason had forgiven his bride-to-be. Police have not said whether they intend to charge Wilbanks for the hoax.