Runaway Bride is more than a Julia Roberts movie!
For those who don’t remember this strange true crime tale from the mid-2000s, Jennifer Wilbanks became an IRL version of the rom com when she split before her enormous wedding. Only in real life, there was a lot more crime involved.
The 2005 ceremony was prepped to go, with over 600 invited guests to the Georgia venue. But just a couple days before the nuptials were set to take place, Jennifer disappeared. And by that we mean she actually disappeared — her family, who insisted she wasn’t the type to run off, filed a missing person report — leading to a nationwide search.
She was finally found three days later, nearly all the way on the other side of the country in Albuquerque, New Mexico. To explain her disappearance, she claimed to have been kidnapped while on a jog and later sexually assaulted by a couple — a white woman and a Latino man.
However, that story was total BS. She later copped to making the whole thing up, having just left to deal with “personal issues.” The wedding was called off, naturally, and fiancé John Mason left her.
But of course there were also the legal consequences. After all, you can’t just make up a sexual assault (and it had to be by a Latino, too — the type of thing that foments racist sentiments!).
After pleading guilty to one felony count of making a false statement, Wilbanks got two years probation, 120 hours of community service, and mandatory counseling. Oh, and she had to pay about $16k for all the costs authorities had spent looking for her.
And, well, that was that. The viral story had taken its final twist and was forgotten. After all, it was 2005 — Prince William was dressing as a Nazi, Brad Pitt was leaving Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie, we were busy.
But it wasn’t over for Jennifer. Her story continued, and as it turns out, just a few years later, in 201o, she really did get married, going through with the whole thing with a landscaper named Greg Hutson. But the happiness was not to last.
Like many couples, they did not survive the stress of a year of pandemic and lockdown. Just this past March, as People learned on Thursday from online court records, her husband filed for divorce. The split was finalized just 30 days later.
So hey, if you’ve ever wondered what happened to the real-life so-called “Runaway Bride,” she did live happily — just not ever after.
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