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The Wilbanks Disappearance… Past Tense

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***UPDATE, 7 a.m.*** FBI Now reports in a 7 a.m. news conference that Jennifer Wilbanks left due to a case of “nerves” about her impending doom – er, nuptials. She took a bus to Albuquerque, apparently.

I really would not want to be Jennifer Wilbanks right now. And no one owes John Mason a bigger apology than Jennifer Wilbanks.


CNN is reporting that Jennifer Wilbanks has been found alive in New Mexico. Fox News is reporting that Jennifer was abducted by a man and a woman, taken to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she escaped from her abductors. The answer to one question is now available as well; Wilbanks’ hair was cut by her abductors. There is a lot more to this story, more mystery to come, but the outcome for once is good news. And I for one apologize to John Mason for the suspicious speculation… however, I am in the majority now of those who owe Mason an “I’m sorry.”


I’ve switched the status of my previous two Dark Side blog entries about the disappearance of Jennifer Wilbanks to “draft,” taking them off-line, due to the developments I outlined above. It is unfair to Jennifer’s fiance John Mason to allow speculation about his guilt or innocence to remain online if one has the ability to remove it. That is one great advantage of personal blogging, I guess.

Wilbanks is in the protection of the FBI in Albuquerque, and Fox News is interviewing John Mason on the phone on the television behind me.

As told by Mason, here is what happened; while running on Tuesday night Wilbanks was grabbed from behind by an hispanic male and a white female. She did not hear them because she was wearing her mp3 player, which is probably a pretty good lesson to anyone else who runs on city streets at twilight with mp3 players on their ears.

Her abductors apparently cut her hair at some point and then took her with them on the road. At the moment no one is saying what happened during that time, but what is apparent now is that the nationwide coverage of Jennifer Wilbanks’ disappearance may have aided in her captors releasing her. Wilbanks’ abductors may have been contemplating asking for ransom, but the story at the moment is they released in her Albuquerque, or may have “allowed” her to escape.

There is no news as to the disposition of the hispanic male and white female who allegedly abducted Jennifer. If they are still on the loose, they present a whole new mystery and danger to the public.

In a way, if the story of what happened to Jennifer is true, and there is no reason to believe it is not, then it is truly frightening because of the apparently random nature of the abduction.

This was what threw a lot of speculation towards Mason, aside from the curse of Scott Peterson [Google search] hanging over all future husbands or boyfriends whose wives or girlfriends go missing – the supposed ‘safety’ and quiet of suburban Duluth, in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Because much was made of this in the news, even by residents of Duluth, speculation tended to slide back to Mason. To defend those of us who were viewing the man with a jaundiced eye, as late as 1 p.m. Friday, April 29, Duluth police would make no statement that ruled Mason out as a suspect. Many of us were taking our cues from the behavior of law enforcement.

I must admit, that if, God forbid, the same thing were to happen in my family, one of my children or my wife go missing, I’m sure suspicion would light on this shaven-headed “true crime blogger” immediately. Hay would be made of my collection of Ann Rule books, books on profiling and serial killers. One can say of Jennifer’s abduction that it could happen to anyone; one could also say of all the suspicion directed at John Mason that this too, could happen to anyone.

I had begun to wonder if Jennifer’s vanishing might be stranger-related tonight, if only because she had a few things in common with Leslie Beebe [Dark Side of Planet Huff search], the 26-year-old Roswell, Georgia nurse who disappeared last December and was found dead 7 days after she vanished from the Derby Bar in Alpharetta. My dire imaginings were still probably off-base, as the alternate scenario to me went from a “Scott Peterson” paradigm to a “Ted Bundy” paradigm.

Now, for all we know, it was a bit of a Paul Bernardo/Karla Homolka [Google search] paradigm – the killer “Ken and Barbie” couple from Canada who abducted, raped and killed several young girls, including Homolka’s younger sister, in the 90’s. I’ll be writing about Karla shortly – she is either already out or due to be out of prison very soon.

I will be very interested, just like everyone else I’m sure, to hear this bizarre story in detail.

For now, I have to say it’s good to be able to write an entry like this. Yesterday I had a record for me with The Dark Side of Planet Huff, for any blog of mine ever, of 10,000+ pageloads in one day. When I first saw the statistic I was shocked and pleased, then I reflected on the subjects I cover in that blog, and realized that having so many readers in one fell swoop was a kind of pyrrhic victory; a good thing that comes at too great a cost.

For once I can say the vanished fiancee, the missing girl, is alive, and apparently okay, though surely traumatized. I can say about a suspect, I’m glad to know he’s an innocent man, and though I doubt he’ll ever read this or hear about it, I, for one, am sorry… he’s a victim too, in a way. Of the cynicism of a world that has seen Lori Hacking [Google search] go missing while jogging, Laci Peterson vanish while walking the dog. It’s easy to say one will not rush to judgement, but much harder to do, given the very deep darkness that sometimes seems so omnipresent in the world.

The title of this entry originally referred to a mildly troubling slip in tense John Mason made in an interview with Greta Van Susteren. As I was rewriting this piece I wondered if I should change it, then I realized it was still appropriate, in a way.

The Wilbanks Disappearance, as a potential southern gothic domestic tragedy, is now, in the most important way, past tense.

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About Steve

  • Jen

    This story doesn’t make sense. What is a woman doing running at night with head phones on???? That’s pretty dumb and I don’t believe this story at all.

  • Graham Reaper

    I notice you are trying to excuse your outrageous presumption of guilt. Why can’t you just admit you were a finger-pointing idiot who helped sully an innocent man’s reputation? Suck it up like a man instead of whining and pleading that your behaviour was in any way excusable. I hope you have learned your lesson.

  • Mr Smith

    My guess on this was she had cold feet and ran away. Generally spouses dont die before weddings, they die after for insurance or because they want half the money. Lots of people jog with headsets where i live.
    Will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    Graham –

    I’m posting all this under my own name. I’m pretty sure you weren’t born with that moniker.

    To me, that makes the coward here pretty damned obvious.

    And by the way, “Graham Reaper” as a pseudonym is not spooky as I’m sure you intended, it’s puerile and mildly amusing. You’re a very brave lad, Grammy, posting behind that pseudonym and from across the pond.

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    I don’t know how they do it over there in the mother country, “Graham,” but over here, apologizing under one’s own, real name, is considered to be a decent thing to do. I had reason to suspect the guy, and I said why. And I was in the majority. I was wrong, and I said I was sorry. Every newscaster I’ve heard on the TV this morning who has spoken to one of the main players or their family members has done virtually the same as I have, here.

    Writing invective under a pseudonym, now that is something else all together.

  • Sharon

    to Graham- I think just about EVERYONE in this country initially thought it was the husband to be. If you didn’t then you are a naive idiot.

  • Steve

    I don’t believe her story. From everything that I have heard her family wants to have the biggest wedding ever. The step brother tells a CNN reporter that “I’m sure that y’all be there covering the wedding.” I think that she may have done it on her own for publicity. It will all come out soon enough.Kidnapped then cut her hair? Then let her go? If the kidnappers were going to hold her for ransom no doubt they would have known that if her family had that kind of money there would have been media coverage. How were they planning on collecting any ransom across the country. A lot of questions need to be answered before sending authorities on a wild goose chase.

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    I’m now officially reserving judgement about this case, but there are still a ton of questions to be answered. There are at the moment things that just don’t add up.

    I can say this; no matter what has happened to the woman, I can almost assure you it was a real nightmare for her. I hope she gets very good care, in all the ways she will need it.

  • http://www.gigglechick.com/erin/blog gigglechick

    something is just a bit askew and my gut is saying that the family was in on it – and are trying to drum up the media in an attempt to pay for the 600guest/28member bridal party wedding… if they have enough interviews and “oh a happy ending” story to sell, well, that wedding is as good as paid for.

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    Y’all – they are saying on Fox News, which I hate but watch because they tend to cover the kind of stories I prefer to write about really well – that they are getting a large volume of e-mail that finds this suspicious as well.

    The timing, shortly after midnight, now on the day she was to be married, is very, very interesting.

    For the moment though, I’ll buy it as it is. Even if there was something fake here, it’s not cause for anger, but compassion and concern for the mental health of the woman at the center of it all.

  • ShameOnYou

    this is the evil of defamatory blogging where you turn on innocent people like john mason thinking that this poor innocent husband-to-be was the kidnapper/crook/killer/whatever. you look at it as a tv-crime-show game from the html-safety of your blog-bully pulpit where you think you are high above it all and then it becomes a free-for-all assault of defamation on the poor husband-to-be by the uncontrolled blog-happy mobs of defamatory opinion. it was a nightmare for john mason and then you help to participate in this jumping-onto-the-dogpile mentality of turning him into the crook. shame on you for feeling pleased at getting all the hits you do as you spread your defamatory remarks about an innocent person. you should be sorry about how you spread your defamatory remarks and you should think twice before jumping on the bandwagon accusing loved ones of doing the unthinkable.

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    Shame on US?

    Looks like it’s SHAME ON JENNIFER.

  • Teresa

    Yes, indeed, it does look like it is shame on Jennifer. The latest is that she took a bus to New Mexico. How anyone could put her family through such misery is beyond me. And I guess I was one of the “naive idiots” who didn’t believe it was John Mason behind it all. I tend not to judge others before PROVEN guilty.

  • amit

    Shame on Jennifer…she should be taught a lesson for messing with the emotions of millions of people about her safety as well as wasting a lot of manpower and lying to the Feds in New Mexico…a lesson for some other bride to be ..not to get ” COLD FEET” !!!!!!!!!

  • Susan

    Unbelieveably, after all this, CNN has reported that the wedding will go on anyway, and the whole town will be invited! Obviously this couple deserves one another. The words “self-absorbed” and “selfish” come to mind. She should be dealing with cold feet in jail after what she put her friends & family through, and after police wasted their time looking for her. She will probably now be seen as a “victim” and appear on TV talk shows.

  • http://calblog.com Justene

    I thought there were other things that slid suspicion to the fiance. Yesterday it was reported that he had not agreed to the polygraph yet. Given the interviews we have regularly of people like Ed Smart and Marc Klaas at how important it was to the police to be able to clear them early,
    I can’t see any good reason for him to do that.

    When we saw him interviewed, he didn’t act upset. He seem baffled by her disappearance but not upset.

    In fact, I am still suspicious of him. Now instead of wondering if he abducted her, I have to wonder if he was in on it as a publicity stunt.

    I don’t think anyone has to apologize for being suspicious. It’s not a case of jumping to conclusions. When anyone disappears the first suspicous is the nearest relatives friends, etc. Not because of Scott Peterson but because of the percentage of these cases that are not stranger related ( What is it 80%? 90%?. It would be stupid to change that assumption.

  • Amy

    I am angry at this woman, because the next time a young woman like this goes missing, people will be less concerned, assuming that she’ll show up eventually. I think she should sell her wedding dress and at least provide a catered lunch for the Duluth police department, with a big fat cake that says “I’m sorry.”

  • Jim C

    This chick is a pathetic, self absorbed loser. One lie after another – I GAURANTEE there are lots more lies and BS to come. She is a narcissistic lunatic. First of all anyone who would invite 600 people to their wedding obviously has some issues. And trust me it was her that wanted that many people, not him. No one has that many people relevant enough in their lives to invite to their wedding. Only someone like this self absorbed, liar would invite that many people to say, “Look at me, look at me”. Second, to put her fiancé and her family through this ordeal puts the exclamation point on what a selfish !$#@!#@! she is. This is not a good person and her husband is a moron if he goes through with marrying this trash. But I am sure she will come up with some way to try to manipulate us into all feeling sorry for her. What a #@!#@!#. If I were her fiance I would be in Vegas tearing it up trying to forget about this d-bag. But then again it’s funny how morons find morons and he seems like he might be stupid enough to stick with her.

  • Dawn

    What an ass. Tying up resources, causing her family undue concern. Stupid, selfish ass.

    I sure hope there weren’t any real crimes going on, like child abductions while this immature loser was “sorting out her feelings” and causing panic for those who love her, including making her husband look really suspicious.

    Ugh, I would charge her with something.

  • MYOB

    > I’ve switched the status of my previous
    > two Dark Side blog entries about the
    > disappearance of Jennifer Wilbanks to
    > “draft,” taking them off-line, due to
    > the developments I outlined above. It
    > is unfair to Jennifer’s fiance John
    > Mason to allow speculation about his
    > guilt or innocence to remain online if
    > one has the ability to remove it.

    LOL. It’s unfair to your bank balance to leave evidence of your libelous tendencies on-line. I hope Mason sues your ass along with Fox’s.

  • Eric Olsen

    Steve, it makes much more sense to update the others posts with new information and refer them to this post for new developments rather than putting them in draft and making them disappear

  • Eric Olsen

    by the way, there is no shame in speculating on the news: that’s what you do particularly well. Sometimes you’ll be right, sometimes you’ll be wrong. That’s life, but we can’t have posts disappear as that leaves a much greater taint than simply being proven wrong in speculation, if you know what I mean

  • Dawn

    Exactly what Eric said, speculation on current events (assuming you pose them as mere speculation, which you went out of your way to do) is typical of the media.

    No shame man – ignore those trolls who are trying to get under your skin – sometimes we are right (like Scott Peterson being a murderous dick) and sometimes we’re wrong, like in this case.

    At this point, I can’t imagine that this post is the biggest issue in the fiance’s life – he has a whacked out, psycho, self-involved nutjob to disassociate himself with.

  • cloud9

    Is this chick nuts, or afraid of someone? In my opinion, one of two things happened here. Either she really WAS abducted and set free for “whatever” reason, and is scared to death to talk, OR she is a very selfish person! Should it be the former, I’m praying for her. Should it be the latter, she owes a whole lot of people a huge apology, starting with her fiancee’.

  • Mr. Hill

    Your speculation was driven from your heart and head. If you were truthful with yourself, you were hoping that Mason was the culprit. When you wrote your tease you had a sense of pride, you for that moment became a real life Perry Mason………a sad fact of a fruitless life….hidding behind a board, your own CSI unit at your fingertips…WOW what POWER….Please take the time to reflect on how irresponsible your actions were, and correct them in your future investigations. Let the law do their job, report the facts. Please place a call to the MAson Family and repent your sins.

  • taxpayer

    I believe the guilty…rape, murder, thief, or a hesitate bride should pay all police, fire, court costs per hour. Why should we law abiding taxpayers have to foot the bill of the those with ‘problems’ in our society?

  • Kelly

    This little attention whore should have to pay back every dime and return all those gifts she got!! Notice she didn’t have cold feet while she was unwrapping all her gifts at her bridal shower on Sunday. More than 600 guests and 14 bridesmaids? This girl was nothing but an attention whore from the beginning!

  • JoeBlackMan

    Why is it that whenever a “poor little white girl” goes missing, they always got to pick on a black or hispanic as the perpertrators. She owes US an apology. According to her description, alot of Hispanic men would have been round up. How would you apologize to those men?

  • LuciaBrown

    Bride-to-be with cold feet? Issues? What a nice spin. Let’s call it as we see it, people. This is a selfish, spoiled, overindulged, RACIST brat! How dare she blame a Hispanic man in her sick and twisted attempt to get attention. She should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Bruce

    How come there isn’t any mention of her past relationships? Has she been married before? After all she is 32. Her past boyfriends or husband could shed more insight on her.

  • SFC SKI

    At least this one is over, watching the news ,you’d think was the only important thing happening.

  • http://www.poopycaca.com PoopyCaca

    Runaway Bride Ran Because She Wanted To Be National Staring Champ

    Written by Joe Wilson

    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (PoopyCaca.com) – Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, who has a lot of growing up to do, was found in New Mexico last night.

    The bride-to-be disappeared from her Duluth, Georgia home Tuesday night after she went for a jog, which Ms. Wilbanks later described to Albuquerque police as, “a head start….

    Read the full story at http://www.PoopyCaca.com

  • Eric Olsen

    yeah, hat’s with those bulging eyeballs? She looks like someone is squeezing her off-camera and she is about to pop like a tadpole

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    Eric I’m confused – I did that – putting posts into draft status – on my Dark Side blog, not here. I figured the editing window was up here, anyway. Am I misunderstanding you, and that was a suggestion for my own blog?

  • Eric Olsen

    no, I hadn’t even looked and just assumed you were talking about here: no worries, no probs, the encouragement still holds!

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    At first, reading the words of those who were crowing because John was innocent after all, I was admittedly getting pissed. Then I noticed it didn’t look like a single person who was particularly nasty had put their real e-mail or name down. To me, that makes their words worthless.

    Saying that, I’m now officially f**king sick of this story. This is the last I’ll write about it.

    I think some misdemeanor charges are appropriate, as is, most likely, psychiatric or psychological counselling. I’m most angry about Wilbanks’ readiness to indict hispanic folk with her story, before she retracted it and told the truth. Gave southerners a black eye all over again, giving some truth to those stereotypes about endemic racism here.

    Walking through an airport with her face covered? I don’t blame her. She should be ashamed, for more reasons than just the obvious. One thing I got was that those families love her. They would have handled her backing out better than she knew, but she didn’t give them that chance.

  • Gunter Grass

    I find it OFFENSIVE that blacks and hispanics are always scape goated by DUMB women like this. The same goes for Trisha Mieli and all the dumb people that bought her book. Give that money to the 5 kids who were thrown in jail on the trumped up charges. They need to throw this stupid woman in jail … utter uselessness!!!

  • Gunter Grass Again

    Also the BLOGGER is an idiot … you need to get a life … dumb Americans always some tragedy to make noise over, if its not some white girl in a well, it’s Brad & Jen or Ben & Jen or Brad & Angelina … “Support The Troops” whatever, I say “Save the Troops” and “Save Americans” … the whole soceity is in hysteria, and likes to believe fantasies (e.g. one poor woman soldier fought off a HORDE of Iraqis while wounded, and then she was rescued by a band of heroic soldiers in a well fortified hospital – NOT!!!) LOL

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    Hey foo – they finally throw you outta the Wichita Eagle website?

    Sorry if you’re not THAT foobar, but man the tone sure is similar to one of the ks.com trolls.

    And oh, yeah – I’m not always that bright, but you are definitely a rider on the idiot train yourself, bub. “Scape Goat” is one word, weasel.

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Gunter, the idiot is one who reads 40 comments and inflates to all Americans.

    Take a pill, pal, and get over yourself.

    This woman did something stupid, made up a lie to cover her stupidity, and continued munching until her knee was at her lips. Her fiance may have known she wasn’t in danger, and that’s how he passed a polygraph why he declined to take one if the police administered it.)

    Even if not, he’s still terminally stupid to go ahead with the marriage.

  • Holly

    I can’t help but notice she didn’t have “emotional issues” while she was basking in the glow of her EIGHT bridal showers, unwrapping gift after gift after gift. What a spoiled brat! She really needs to face the consequences and learn the true value of a taxpayer’s dollar.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    SH:

    You have nothing to be sorry for. You made a logical assumption that turned out to be wrong. The MSM and even the police do this from time to time as well.

    Now, turning to the subject of what should happen to this evil bitch:

    She clearly broke a law or two by doing this. Not neccesarily by running away and disappearing, but by falsely claiming she was kidnapped.

    Charge her and convict her of these crimes, I say. No leniecy in the sentencing. And her fiancee should start banging some of the wedding party to get his revenge, and then refuse to marry the moronic “bride”…

  • http://www.planethuff.com/darkside Steve

    Eric, I took your suggestion about keeping the old blog entries available to heart and re-published them at my personal blog – as historical documents of a sort, I guess. C’est la guerre.

  • http://www.docofdiets.com dietdoc

    Eric writes:

    “yeah, what’s with those bulging eyeballs? She looks like someone is squeezing her off-camera and she is about to pop like a tadpole”

    Reply: Whereas this does not express the outrage of the overall tone of these posts, I was struck by her thoroughly abnormal eyes, as well. Being able to see the white sclera between upper eyelid and cornea is the sina qua non (with lid lag) of physical examination findings in exopthalmos due to overactive thyroid. And this is with a flash bulb going off into her eyes as well.

    If I were a betting man (I’m not), I would sure check this woman’s thyroid status. With her emaciated frame and that exopthalmos, I would wonder, as a physician, if she has Graves’ Disease or some other form of hyperthyroidism.

    If she is clinically hyperthyroid, that would explain (but certainly not excuse) her “jitteriness” – tachycardia, nervousness, palpitations, anxiety…

    Any, back to the stoning.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  • http://www.poopycaca.com PoopyCaca

    I think she just really, really, really likes to stare at people.

    When you need another course for fake news, Poopy Caca.com is there.

  • Matt

    For some unknown reason this has gone unreported: Wilbanks has engaged in similar “cold feet” behavior thrice before. IMO this points to mental illness, and assuredly her legal counsel will procure an expert to testify as to her lack of mens rea; but notwithstanding, the ultimate disposition in this case will be an excellent primer in the double standard that the criminal justice system applies to gender specific crimes.

  • may

    How did you find out she was engaged three times before John Mason? Did she break all of those engagements as well?

  • http://submittodesire.tripod.com SubmittoDesire

    Maybe she ran away for other reasons related to marriage. She just got to be the news on a slow news day. And now she’s a topic on everyone’s blog.

    Jennifer Wilbanks and the Bug-Eyed Truth – The easy and discreet way to get out of sex:

    Knowing how to avoid married sex is just as important as baking a loaf of banana bread.

    1. Don’t be honest. Honesty is the worst thing you can do. You’re better off running to New Mexico or something. Nobody will know.

    2. Give the bug eyed look when the question comes up. Practice ’til perfection. It works. You’ll have to answer the “What the HELL are you doing” questions, but it helps to change the subject.

    3. Reveal some deep dark secret, like that you “need some alone time” to think about it. Mention that you think clearer when you are in New Mexico.

    I’m not Jennifer Wilbanks.