'Runaway Bride' Sues Ex For $500,000

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Jennifer Wilbanks, who became known as the "runaway bride" after taking off just days before her lavish wedding in 2005, is suing her former fiancé for $500,000.

Wilbanks and John Mason broke up for good in May, about a year after her excursion to Las Vegas and New Mexico made international headlines while hundreds of friends and family members searched for her back home in suburban Atlanta.

Mason has until Oct. 22 to respond to the lawsuit, filed last month in Gwinnett County's Superior Court. The suit, Wilbanks vs. JCM Consulting et al, was filed Sept. 13, according to court records.

In it, Wilbanks seeks $250,000 as her share of a home Mason purchased through the partnership with proceeds from $500,000 received for selling their story to an agent, plus $250,000 in punitive damages for allegedly abusing the power of attorney she granted for him to handle their financial affairs, according to an Atlanta television station, which reported on the lawsuit Monday night.

She also seeks the return of personal property she claims he has kept.

Wilbanks disappeared four days before her April 30, 2005, wedding. Hundreds of police and volunteers searched for her for three days before she called Mason from Albuquerque, N.M., claiming to have been abducted and sexually assaulted.

She later recanted, saying she fled because of unspecified personal issues, and pleaded no contest to telling police a phony story.

FBI agents who interviewed her said in their report that Wilbanks "was scared to marry (fiancé) John Mason because she is afraid of an imperfect world. Wilbanks stated that she could not be the wife that her fiancé John Mason needed. Wilbanks wanted to disappear without a trace."

She was sentenced to two years' probation and performed community service that included mowing the lawns of public buildings and cleaning bathrooms.

The nearby city of Duluth, where Wilbanks had lived with her fiancé, spent nearly $43,000 to search for her.