"Just because we haven't walked down the aisle, just because we haven't stood in front of 500 people and said our I Do's, my commitment before God to her was the day I bought that ring and put it on her finger, and I'm not backing down from that," John Mason said Monday in an interview.
It was Mason's first public statement since he learned on the morning of his scheduled wedding day that his fiancée had gotten cold feet.
As her family and friends feared the worst, police say Wilbanks cut her hair and took a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas to back out of a lavish, 600-guest wedding planned for Saturday. She then went on to Albuquerque, N.M., where she eventually called Mason and police from a pay phone at a convenience store, saying she had been kidnapped. She later said it was simply a case of cold feet.
Mason said he has given the 32-year-old Wilbanks her ring back — she had left it at the house — and said they still planned to marry.
But if Mason is ready to forgive the jittery bride, authorities are still peeved.
The mayor said Monday she is looking into the possibility of suing Wilbanks for the estimated $100,000 cost of searching for her. That option would have to be approved by the city council. The groom's father, Claude Mason, is a former mayor of Duluth and a local judge.
"We feel a tad betrayed and some are very hurt about it," Mayor Shirley Lasseter said.
She added that they want to hear from Wilbanks' family, to see if perhaps there was a good reason for the woman's disappearance. "I would love to hear from the family and know there might have been a problem and know we should work with this lady on some recourse other than legally."
A local prosecutor said Monday he would conduct a thorough investigation, which could take weeks, before deciding whether to charge Wilbanks for falsely claiming she had been kidnapped. District Attorney Danny Porter said he has not yet interviewed Wilbanks.
Porter said Wilbanks could face a misdemeanor charge of false report of a crime or a felony charge of false statements. The misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to a year in jail; five years in prison is the maximum sentence for the felony.
"At first I've got to find out whether or not I can legally do it. I'm not sure of the jurisdiction," Porter said on CBS News' The Early Show. "After that, I'm going to look at all the facts of the case and the pre-med case that's involved and then I'll make a decision whether or not to prosecute."