Monday, May 02, 2005

Hoax, Criminal Act or Just Plain Stupidity

Jennifer Wilbanks, 32, disappeared while out for a jog last Tuesday.  On Saturday she turned up outside an Albuquerque NM 7-Eleven.  At first she claimed to have been kidnapped but then later recanted and admitted to running off because she needed some time to clear her head from the stress of her upcoming wedding.

CrimProf Blog asks the question "Should Hoaxes be treated as Criminal Offenses?"

There seems to be a lot of opinions flying around about whether or not this woman immature child should be prosecuted.

Did she commit a crime?  Is it illegal for an adult to just wander off without telling anyone?  Is it illegal for an adult once they realize that they screwed up to concoct a phony kidnapping story to cover up their actions?  Is it illegal to inflict unimaginable emotional distress on your parents, friends, and fiance?

Well I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV.  So I can't answer those questions from a legal standpoint. But I can tell you my answers from a conservative, middle class, father and husband point of view.

Did she commmit a crime?  Yes, the moment she told the police that she had been kidnapped she had filed a false police complaint.  What kind of punishment should she receive?  How about she perform the same hours of community service as the police, and emergency agencies spent in looking for her?  She could do her time giving talks to kids about the appropriate ways to deal with stress.  Of course someone would have to write her a script.

Is it illegal for an adult to just wander off without telling anyone?  Well no it's not illegal, at least I hope it's not.  But it is cruel, uncaring, and extrememly selfish.  My children from an early age have had a lot of freedom to chose how they spend their free time.  But they have to tell us where they are going.  Front yard, back yard, to the neighbors house, Mom and Dad have to know where you are going.  This is not to control them, it is to protect them and us.  But this woman spoiled child didn't think of anyone but herself.  How difficult would it have been to leave a message on some one's answering machine, or a note on the counter - "I need some time to think, I'll call in a few days, don't worry, I'm ok".  Then go check into a spa for a few days.  Sure, everyone is still going to worry.   They are probably going to look for you also. But at least they probably won't mobilize a multiple state manhunt for your kidnappers or murderers.

Is it illegal to inflict unimaginable emotional grief on your family, friends and loved ones?  In certain circumstances it probably is.  In this case, illegal - no. Immoral, selfish, childish, and incredibly stupid - yes.  Her parents of course are thrilled just to know she's safe and to have her back again.  As a Dad I can understand that.  But her fiance who still wants to marry her after she intentionally made him the number one suspect in her disappearance.  She put him into the position of appearing to the nation as the prime suspect in a kidnapping or murder.

A word of advice to her fiance, marry a crack whore instead. At least you will know what you are getting into. Their problems are well documented and you can take appropriate actions to try and prevent them.  This whack job that you are engaged to now needs to be sent back to her Mommy and Daddy where she needs to be spanked, grounded, and watched over very carefully until she grows up enough to be allowed to dress herself. You may still love her and want to be with her. But can you ever trust her? And without trust how stable is your marriage going to be? More importantly will you ever be able to leave her unsupervised? How long will it take for her to get stressed out over an upcomming trip to the grocery store and take off again? Did you enjoy the polygraph test? Did you enjoy having half the country think that you were a murdering SOB? Because that's what most of my coworkers thought of you.

So was this a hoax, criminal act or just plain stupidity? I think I vote for stupidity. If I was a over-legislatively inclined liberal I'd say that we need a law against people being this stupid. Fortunately, I'm not that stupid. (I hope!)

So get the Georgia relief agencies to total up the hours they spent looking for Jennifer (walkabout) Wilbanks and get ready to put this whack job to work, paying back that time.

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