This Southern Belle's Musings

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Monday, May 02, 2005

She's A Little Runaway . . . 

As I walk along I wonder
what went wrong
With our love,
a love that was so strong

And as I still walk on I think of
the things we've done together
While our hearts were young

I'm walkin' in the rain,
tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
Wishin' you were here by me
to end this misery and I wonder
I wonder why why
why why why why she ran away
And I wonder where
she will stay my little runaway
A run, run, run, runaway
(Instrumental Break)

~ Del Shannon

Okay, I'm usually not one to jump on the proverbial bandwagon of "in-your-face" media frenzy-feeding topics that permeate the airwaves, the dailies, the glossies and the tabloids when something such as this story hits.     I usually keep my opinions on these topics (as well as politics, and a few other [what-could-be-construed-as] controversial subjects) to myself but, . . . this one was difficult to ignore.

Living in the extreme northwest outskirts of Atlanta (so far, it can't really be called suburbs), I am also in close proximity to the town of Duluth, Georgia where Jennifer Wilbanks disappeared last Tuesday night.     I -- like most of our region -- and, later, most of the country -- followed this story closely.     Of course, as many, influenced by the stories (and spins) that the media was placing on this disappearance, I was reminded of my move to D.C. during the time that Chandra Levy disappeared (I became totally wrapped up in Chandra's case).     And, of course, even the media alluded to Laci Petterson on several occasions over the last week.     All eyes began to turn to Jennifer's fiance when the search failed to bring any real leads.     Two prominent and well-respected legal journalists emphatically declared during their shows that there was "no way this was a runaway; no way" and inferred that the authorities needed to look more closely at the fiance.

I watched the news conferences each evening on the Atlanta local news, and watched as the distraught families begged for any information, and for Jennifer's safe return.     When Jennifer first contacted her family late Friday night to say she had been kidnapped, her family and her fiance's family were elated.    She then telephoned the Albuquerque, NM police at 9-1-1 and told her tale of abduction to them.     It was later on Saturday that Albuquerque, NM authorities - then Duluth, GA authorities - were told the truth.     The Duluth chief of police had to inform the family of the truth.     The mood turned from elation to -- what I'm sure was embarrassment and shock -- and the families barricaded themselves inside of the fiance's home, drawing all the blinds and cutting themselves off from the same media that they had spent the last three-plus days with in direct interaction.

Originally, both NM and GA said there would be no charges filed.     But, that is now being reconsidered.     The Gwinnett County Georgia District Attorney is currently weighing two different charges -- either a misdemeanor charge of false report of a crime or a felony charge of false statements.     The misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to a year in jail; five years in prison is the maximum sentence for the felony.

In addition, now there are numerous psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and marriage counselors coming out of the woodwork (looking for their fifteen minutes), who are giving their "expert" opinions on the stress that caused Jennifer to run away from the responsibilities and commitments she had made by planning such an elaborate wedding with 600 invited guests, 14 bridesmaids, and 14 groomsmen and everything that goes with such a lavish affair.     These "experts" are saying she was overwhelmed, had feelings of 'fear of disappointment' if she didn't go through with the wedding, and a barrage of yadda-yadda-yadda-psycho-babble.     I've already heard (and/or read) the opinions of at least six marriage counselors who have laid a perfect foundation for Jennifer's defense of her actions.     But, none of these counselors have seen or met her, and are merely going on what they (just like the rest of us) have heard in the media.

But, there are indications that she purchased the bus ticket at least a week in advance.     There's indications that she had put money aside that she could access.     She took a cab to the airport where she then caught the Greyhound bus to Las Vegas.     Once in Vegas, she decided to travel back to Albuquerque.      Somewhere along the way (it appears before she left Georgia, as hair was found "consistent" with hers near where she had been jogging) she cut her hair to disguise her appearance.     Did she just expect to vanish and not come back?     Or, did she plan this elaborate 'kidnapping' hoax all along?     Or, did she not think ahead at all?     She certainly didn't think about her family -- I grieved along with them as I watched their daily news conferences and saw their anguish over her disappearance.     And (especially if charges are filed), I believe her attorney will attempt to prove severe emotional duress brought on by the overwhelming stress of the upcoming wedding, and will recommend hospitalization (and no retribution to the City/Police Department).     From all indications, this was not a "spur of the moment" thing.

Bottom line, I'm very glad that she is safe.     I'm happy that she is back with her family, and they are not having to deal with not knowing what happened to her or, worse, planning a funeral.     I do feel angry that the police department and all of the volunteers who spent two days searching, (square foot by square foot, the entire city of Duluth) for any small piece of evidence that might suggest with happened to Jennifer wasted precious hours for nothing.     I feel sorry for her fiance who had to endure the pain of not knowing, going through interrogations and polygraph testing, and the thinly-veiled accusations as days progressed.     And, yes, the nation as a whole is angry because the media whipped us up into another missing girl frenzy, and we became emotionally invested in this story . . . only to be told that we were all duped by a hoax perpetuated on us all by a 32 year old bride-to-be who stressed out over an overly-elaborately-planned wedding and she got cold feet.

Everyone has gotten in on this bandwagon . . .
check out this eBay auction --
The Original Jennifer Wilbanks Runaway Bride Kit!.     There are actually already seven items for auction on eBay relating to Jennifer.

She definitely got her fifteen minutes, 'eh???

Category::   Opinion

(c)   2005    A Southern Belle's Life

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