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Ga. search called off for missing bride-to-be

Vigil may replace church wedding

DULUTH, Ga. -- A lavish wedding that was to include 600 guests seemed destined to become a prayer service after police called off the search yesterday for a missing bride-to-be, saying they have ''turned over probably every leaf in the city."

Jennifer Carol Wilbanks disappeared Tuesday after her fiancé said she went jogging and never came back. Hundreds of police and volunteers spent the week searching the woods of this Atlanta suburb for the nurse.

With authorities acknowledging yesterday that they have no solid leads, relatives offered a $100,000 reward and said wedding guests probably will still gather at the church today, but for a prayer vigil instead.

Attention in the case has now turned to Wilbanks's fiance, John Mason, a 32-year-old office manager who teaches a Sunday school class and coaches his church's youth basketball team. Mason has refused to take a police polygraph test except under conditions outlined by his attorney, Police Chief Randy Belcher said.

Mason's lawyer turned in results from a privately administered polygraph, which family members said he passed, but Belcher said police still wanted to talk to him.

Mason and his lawyer have requested the police polygraph to be videotaped, something Belcher said no law enforcement agency ''that's worth anything" would do. Belcher said negotiations about the polygraph would continue. Mason's lawyer did not return phone calls to elaborate.

Three computers seized at the couple's home Thursday were being analyzed, but the police chief would not say whether they found anything useful.

Meanwhile, tearful family members gathered at the couple's home and expressed frustration over the lack of clues. Police are testing some strands of hair and a few articles of clothing turned in, but added that they had no reason to think that any of it belonged to Wilbanks.

Wilbanks's uncle, Mike Satterfield, said he did not fault police for wrapping up the search: ''You can only search so much and so many times." The hunt for Wilbanks had consumed this tightknit town for days. Her picture and newspaper articles about her disappearance were on telephone poles and shop windows.

A friend of Wilbanks's, Killie McCauley, said the planned wedding was ''the talk of the town." Fourteen bridesmaids were to stand beside Wilbanks as she married Mason, whom a friend described as ''a big teddy bear."

''He's one of the kindest people you'll ever meet," said Melinda Larson, a friend of Mason's who was planning to attend the wedding. ''Jennifer had a dream of this huge, elaborate wedding, and John was so supportive."

Mason attended a family news conference but did not talk to reporters. Satterfield, the bride's uncle, said Mason wanted to talk but was not sure what to say. ''There's not much John can say that wouldn't make speculation worse," Satterfield said.

Mason works at Mason Primary Care, which his family owns, said Andy Parsons, the Mason family's management consultant.

''He is one of the most decent, upstanding Christian men I've ever met," said Parsons, who meets weekly with Mason for a private Bible study session.

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