Officials who searched for her aren't amused
Friday, June 17, 2005 Posted: 12:13 AM EDT (0413 GMT)
ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- "Runaway bride" Jennifer Wilbanks made a deal with a company that is pitching a movie about her life to networks -- annoying officials who spent thousands of dollars searching for her.
ReganMedia, a New York multimedia company, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a story in Thursday's papers it has acquired all media rights to the "life stories" of Wilbanks and her fiance, John Mason.
The company did not say whether any money had changed hands.
"I am looking forward to developing the scripted project with Wilbanks and Mason," company president Judith Regan said in a statement. "Theirs is an unexpected and compelling story of love and forgiveness that has certainly taught me a thing or two."
The 32-year-old bride-to-be disappeared from her home in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth on April 26, four days before her wedding in a ceremony with 600 guests and 28 attendants.
She took a bus to Las Vegas and then Albuquerque, New Mexico, and claimed she was abducted and sexually assaulted. She later recanted, saying she fled because of unspecified personal issues.
Wilbanks pleaded no contest earlier this month to making a false statement and was sentenced to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service. She also was ordered to continue mental health treatment and pay the sheriff's office $2,550.
Duluth spent nearly $43,000 to search for her. Wilbanks has repaid $13,249.
"It's disturbing to me on a personal basis that she's willing to profit from this, but there's nothing I can do about it legally," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, who pursued charges against Wilbanks.