Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks was indicted Wednesday on two charges of lying to police about being kidnapped -- counts that could mean up to six years in prison.
The 32-year-old woman faces one felony count making of false statement and one misdemeanor count of making a false police report.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and the misdemeanor up to a year in jail if she is convicted. She could also face up to $11,000 in fines and be ordered to reimburse authorities for the cost of the search.
"We believe this is a reasonable next step in the case. We believe the grand jury made the right decision," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter.
"At some point you just can't lie to the police," he said.
A bench warrant will be issued for Wilbanks' arrest within the next few days, he added. He said he was confident arrangements could be made for Wilbanks to turn herself in. No court date has been set.
The indictment does not rule out a plea agreement to lesser charges, Porter said. Authorities had said they were talking to the Wilbanks family about a possible deal.
The office of Wilbanks' attorney, Lydia Sartain, said no statements will be issued until next week. Sartain has said she does not think Wilbanks committed a crime in Gwinnett County. Authorities in Albuquerque had said they would not charge Wilbanks.
"The citizens of the county will be ill-served by an attempted prosecution," Sartain said before Wednesday's charges were announced. She did not return a phone call seeking further comment Wednesday morning.
Runaway Bride's Story Comes Out
Police Chief Randy Belcher outlined the timeline of events that led up to Jennifer's disappearance and ultimate recovery.
According to authorities, Wilbanks purchased a Greyhound bus ticket from Atlanta to Austin, Texas on April 19. Belcher said she called a taxi from a gas station April 26 before she went on her run, teling the taxi to pick her up at the Duluth library. Then, authorities believe Jennifer cut her hair with scissors and left a clump of it near the library before hopping into the cab. She then took the cab to the main Greyhound station in Atlanta and boarded a bus. She got off in Dallas, Texas and chanted to a bus bound for Las Vegas, Nevada, that passed through Albuquerque. After spending time in Las Vegas, she made her way back to Albuquerque. All of these details emerged just days after Wilbanks frantically called her fiance, reporting that she had been abducted - a story she later recanted.
Missing Bride Found In New Mexico
Jennifer Wilbanks, the Georgia bride-to-be who vanished just days before her wedding turned up in New Mexico. Police say she first told them she was abducted but finally admitted to them she got cold feet and "needed some time alone."
The strange case took a turn when Wilbanks called her fiancé, John Mason, from a pay phone late Friday night and told him that she had been kidnapped three days earlier while jogging. She said she was alive and well 1400 miles away in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
But when police questioned her story she confessed to making the whole thing up. She told them she couldn't handle the pressure of her upcoming wedding.
The wedding was going to be a huge event. The couple had mailed 600 invitations, and the ceremony was to feature 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. Wilbanks, who is a nurse, told police she needed some time alone.
Meanwhile her family, friends and fiancé had to endure the torment of not knowing what happened to her since she disappeared on Tuesday.
She told police she took first took a bus to Las Vegas, Nevada then eventually traveled to New Mexico.
Police say that Wilbanks, whose disappearance set off a nationwide hunt, had cut off her shoulder-length hair.