Originally created 05/11/05

Runaway bride enters treatment program



ATLANTA - Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks has voluntarily entered an inpatient medical treatment program, a spokesman for her family's church said Tuesday.

Sammy Smith, a spokesman for Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, Ga., said Wilbanks checked into the program late Monday.

"Ms. Wilbanks entered a highly regarded, inpatient treatment program on her own volition to address physical and mental issues which, she believes, played a major role in her 'running from herself' as she described in a public statement last week," Smith said in a statement.

Smith said the location of the treatment center will not be disclosed and he would not provide more details on the type of treatment Wilbanks is receiving or how long she is expected to remain in the facility.

"I cannot comment any further," Smith said, adding that updates on Wilbanks' condition will be announced at a later time "as approved by medical personnel and her attorney."

Wilbanks' attorney, Lydia Sartain, did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday.

Wilbanks apologized Thursday for disappearing just before her April 30 wedding day, triggering a nationwide search that lasted three days.

The search began in Duluth, Ga., where she lived with her fiance, John Mason.

Tuesday, Duluth officials are expected to provide the exact costs the city absorbed for the search.

In her statement read last week by Lakewood's pastor, the Rev. Tom Smiley, Wilbanks said her disappearance was not motivated by cold feet, but by "a host of compelling issues, which seemed out of control."

Wilbanks initially told investigators she had been abducted by a Hispanic male and white woman with a handgun, a story that quickly unraveled. Albuquerque, N.M., police said Thursday that Wilbanks also claimed she had been sexually assaulted, but recanted with the rest of her story.

In her statement, Wilbanks said she was "truly sorry for the troubles I caused."

Wilbanks said she has asked for the forgiveness of her fiance, their families, friends, churches and communities "and any others I may have offended unintentionally," adding that she was "deeply grateful and appreciative to everyone who responded on my behalf."