Wilbanks: What She Was Thinking

Robert Van Winkle, also known as Vanilla Ice, on "The Early Show."
CBS
Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks wanted to vanish because she feared she could not be the perfect wife. She picked Austin, Texas, as her original destination after seeing actor Matthew McConaughey talk about his hometown on TV. And she funded her odyssey by cashing a cell phone rebate check and emptying an old bank account.

Those were some of the details that emerged Tuesday from investigation reports by the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that detailed Wilbanks' flight. The reports portrayed the 32-year-old nurse as a naive woman whose mother did her banking for her.

Wilbanks also discussed her ordeal in an NBC interview Tuesday night, saying she was suicidal when she fled.

"I had a bottle of pills or I had the bus ticket," she said.

Wilbanks' disappearance four days before her scheduled 600-guest wedding gained national attention. Hundreds of officers and volunteers - including members of the wedding party - searched for her for three days before she called her fiancé from Albuquerque, New Mexico, early in the morning of her planned wedding day, claiming to have been abducted and sexually assaulted. She soon recanted her story, saying she fled because of personal issues.

Wilbanks told investigators that she didn't know about the extent of the search because she didn't see any television or listen to any radio while on the run. The one time she glanced at a newspaper, she "did not see her picture on the front," FBI agents wrote after interviewing Wilbanks on May 4, days after she returned from her cross-country bus trip.

"Wilbanks stated that she felt very humbled that so many people had been searching for her, but she did not feel like she had done anything wrong and she just wanted to disappear," the report said.

Agents said in the 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."

The report from Georgia investigators said she broke off an earlier engagement to another man, and although she had been in a relationship with Mason since August 2004, she kept "I love you" text messages on her cell phone from another man she dated in 2003.